"Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears" is the third book in a series of short story volumes edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, all inspired by classic fairy tales. The genre of fairy tales tends to be seen as literature for children, but Datlow and Windling point out that this is a modern view - the early versions of the tales were often dark, adult and brutal, and they have invited authors to reinvent the tales with an eye on their origins.
The resulting stories cover a variety of styles and genres, from the humour of Roberta Lannes' "Roach in Loafers", to the disturbing horror of Anne Bishop's "Match Girl". This is very much an edition for adults, not to be mistaken for children's stories, and Match Girl (based on Hans Christian Andersen's "Little Match Girl") may be too much for some to stomach. Nevertheless, as the author points out, the instruments of torture described have all been invented and used by humankind.
Some of my favourite stories in this volume are Joyce Carol Oates' haunting and moving "The Crossing"; Neil Gaiman's poem "The White Road" - "Mr. Fox" with a twist; and Tanith Lee's "The Beast", an unusual and erotic version of "Beauty and the Beast" with more than a touch of "Bluebeard". But the book is full of gems, some fantastical, some darkly disturbing. Lovers of fantasy should lap it up, and anyone who has enjoyed the previous volumes of the series will find more delights in store for them here.