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Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen(1939- )
Jane Yolen has written nearly 300 books for children and adults in different genres. We are presenting the ones we think readers will be most interested in. For information about other books, see Jane Yolen’s website. Jane Yolen‘s son, Adam Stemple, is also a fantasy author.

The Transfigured Hart: Now I will believe that there are unicorns


The Transfigured Hart by Jane Yolen

The Transfigured Hart, a 1975 novella by the talented Jane Yolen, was recently republished as part of Tachyon Publications’ Particle e-book imprint. It’s a lovely, evocative tale, juxtaposing fairy-tale-like fantasy and a contemporary rural setting.

Richard and Heather are twelve-year-old neighbors with vastly different personalities who barely know each other. Richard, an orphan who lives with his aunt and uncle, is an introspective loner. A long bout with rheumatic fever has given him the habit of reading, and the habit has remained with him. Heather is an enjoyer of life and people, and she particularly enjoys going off by herself on adventures. But both Richard and Heather love the Five Mile Wood.

When his aunt and uncle think he’s leaving th... Read More

Briar Rose: Fairy tales and trauma

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

In the 1980s, Terri Windling created the FAIRY TALE SERIES, a collection of stand-alone retellings for adults, featuring some of the best writers in the field. The series continued into the early 2000s and spans a wide variety of styles, tones, and interpretations of the tales. Jane Yolen’s Briar Rose (1992) was the sixth in the series and combines its fairy tale with an all-too-real historical horror. It won the Mythopoeic Award in 1992, and was nominated for the Nebula.

Becca, the heroine, is a young Jewish woman who grew up being told fairy tales by her grandmother, Gemma. Becca’s favorite was Sleeping Beauty, though Gemma didn’t tell it in the standard way. Now Gemma is dying, and on her deathbed... Read More

Here There Be Witches: Beautiful illustrations

Here There Be Witches by Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen's anthology is centered around the topic of witches and holds a wide range of writing styles, whether it be poetry, short stories, retelling of legends or dialogue. This variety of these stories and their tones sometimes makes a rather mish-mashed collection; the serious stories don't quite fit with the light-hearted ones and you feel as if they should be in separate books. On the other hand, the range means that there's something for everyone and one gets to see the many sides of witches and their crafts. David Wilgus' black-and-white illustrations are greatly responsible for my enjoyment of this book — he is able to create beauty and realism in each one, no matter how fantastic the subject matter is. I especially like the front and back cover — an old woman on the front, but a beautiful youthful one on the back — but the same snake-ring they wear is testimony that they're the same person! Read More

Where Have the Unicorns Gone?

Where Have the Unicorns Gone? by Jane Yolen and Ruth Sanderson

Most people are struck by the idea of the unicorn: its imagery, its meaning and its origins. Unfortunately in present times the striking and semi-dangerous idea of a horned, goat-legged, lion-tailed creature has been reduced to a sugary-sweet horsey (usually portrayed in various shades of pink or purple).

Jane Yolen and Ruth Sanderson attempt to answer the question of Where Have The Unicorns Gone? The most popular story of where these creatures went to is found within the children's song, which tells how the unicorns were too proud to enter Noah's Ark and subsequently died. Legend tells that they went on to become the horned narwhal of the Arctic Seas.

Yolen and Sanderson keep the motif of the sea, but bring in a more contemporary theme of pollution and environmental destruction. For this reason... Read More

Sherwood: An attractive and interesting collection

Sherwood by Jane Yolen

Sherwood is a collection of eight short stories all based around the legends of Robin Hood. Edited by long-time Hood aficionado Jane Yolen, most of the stories centre on original or minor characters that are in some way related to Robin and his Merry Men. Judging by the "About the Authors" segment at the back of the book, all the contributors have had previous writing experience in both the fantasy and the medievalist period, with works such as Nancy Springer’s I Am Mordred, Yolen’s The Young Merlin Trilogy and Mary Frances Zambreno’s A Plague of Sorcerers to their name. As such, each one certainly seems qualified to add to the ever-growing mass of Robin Hood-related stories, and the ... Read More

Trollbridge: A fun, quirky read…

Trollbridge by Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple

Trollbridge is a quirky collaboration between a mother/son team: author Jane Yolen and musician Adam Stemple.

An amalgamation of the fairytales "Three Billy Goats Gruff" and "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" (with a bit of Scandinavian folklore thrown in for good measure), it involves chapters that alternate between driven music protégée Moira Darr and trio of brothers Galen, Jakob and Erik Griffson, a burgeoning boy-band who have managed to wrangle a weekend away from their stage-managing parents. At different points each group arrives at a bridge in the small Minnesotan town of Vanderby: first Moira, who is among the annual Dairy Princesses chosen to have their likenesses carved into butter sculptures (a real Minnesota tradition) and then the Griffson brothers, enjoying the freedom from their overbearing father.
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Except the Queen: DNF for now

Except the Queen by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder

In Except the Queen, two faerie sisters, Serana and Meteora, accidentally learn a scandalous secret about the faerie queen and let it slip. For their transgression, the two women are separated and banished to mortal Earth to live among humans. They are completely adrift in this new world, and if that weren’t bad enough, their new human bodies are old and overweight.

I think Except the Queen is meant — at least in part — as an exploration of aging. Most of us don’t get magically zapped into older bodies overnight, true. But I think most of us feel sometimes like our aging bodies, with their aches, pains, and gray hairs, aren’t really our “true” bodies. We still feel like the same person we were at 16, 18, 20, so who is this stranger in the mirror with the crow’s feet? And I think we all feel disconnected, so... Read More

Foiled by Jane Yolen and Mike Cavallaro: Instant Classic

Foiled by Jane Yolen (writer) and Mike Cavallaro (illustrator)

The past few weeks I've been spending time writing reviews that focus on new Monthly Comics I think would make good entry points for new comic book readers who have never had pull lists, and I have several more new comics I want to promote. The end of 2013 is an excellent time to be a new reader of comics. However, I must break this series on Monthly Comics because I just read a graphic novel too good for me not to immediately write a review of it: Foiled, written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mike Cavallaro. Foiled is clearly a five-star book, and I want to say in the first paragraph in case anybody stops reading here: Buy this book and it's sequel — Curses!... Read More

Snow in Summer: An Appalachian Snow White

Snow in Summer by Jane Yolen

Snow in Summer is Jane Yolen’s middle grade/young adult retelling of Snow White, set in the Appalachian hills of West Virginia in the 1940s. The main character is Snow in Summer, a girl named by her mother after the white Cerastium flowers that carpet their front yard. Her mother dies in childbirth when Summer is seven years old, and her father completely withdraws in his grief, neglecting Summer, who gets along with the help of her mother’s best friend Nancy. When Summer is eleven, her father is entranced by a sophisticated, cruel woman who married him to get her hands on the land he owns. Her father’s health begins to fail (helped along by Stepmama), but he barely hangs on, as does Summer. Her stepmother, who calls her “Snow,” treats her harshly and isolates her from Nancy and everyone else in ... Read More

The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Vol 2: More disturbing than Vol 1

The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Volume 2 edited by Gordon Van Gelder

I read the first volume (The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction: Sixtieth Anniversary Anthology, published 2009) before I tackled this one, published in 2014. It's only been five years, but I detected a darkening of the tone. Maybe I'm imagining it, maybe it's just me, but it seemed to me that the earlier volume contained stories that set out to go to strange places and, as a consequence, were sometimes disturbing, while this one contained stories that set out to be disturbing.

Consequently, given that "dark and disturbing" isn't my preference, I very nearly gave this one three stars instead of four — reflecting my reduced enjoyment, not reduced quality. These are still fine stories from multiple decades of F&S... Read More

The Emerald Circus: An imaginative three-ring show

The Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen

Under the big top of The Emerald Circus (2017) is a fantastical assemblage of sixteen short stories and novelettes by Jane Yolen. Historical figures like Emily Dickinson, Benjamin Disraeli, Hans Christian Andersen and Edgar Allen Poe enter the three rings and shed their normal identities, dancing across the high wires and peering into tigers’ mouths. In this circus’ House of Mirrors we also see unexpectedly twisted reflections of fictional characters like Alice in Wonderland (who makes an appearance here in two very different Yolen tales), Merlin, and Read More

How to Fracture a Fairy Tale: Grim undertones to Grimm

Reposting to include Skye's new review.

How to Fracture a Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen

One year after Tachyon Publications published The Emerald Circus, a collection of Jane Yolen's fantastical short stories based on various fairy tales and legendary people (both fictional and real), it has followed up with a similar collection, How to Fracture a Fairy Tale (2018). Like The Emerald Circus, this is a compilation of Yolen’s older, previously published stories, spiffed up with new author’s notes in which Yolen briefly discuss each story and how she “fractured” it with significant departures from its original source material. These end notes for each story also include a poem by Yolen that’s linked to th... Read More

The Last Tsar’s Dragons: Less than the sum of its parts

The Last Tsar’s Dragons by Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple

The Last Tsar’s Dragons (2019) is frustrating, both as a reading exercise and in retrospect, when I think about how universally lauded Jane Yolen is and that Adam Stemple, her son, is a well-regarded author in his own right. So take a master storyteller and her progeny, begin with the political tar pit that was the Russian court in the last days of the Romanovs, and add revolutionaries and literal fire-breathing dragons into the mix…

What should, by all expectations, be a fascinating story meanders between various viewpoints, skips through its timeline with no clear indications as to when events are occurring with relation to one another, and makes absol... Read More

Black Heart, Ivory Bones: All that’s best of dark and bright

Black Heart, Ivory Bones edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Black Heart, Ivory Bones is the sixth and final entry in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s series of fairy tale anthologies. Of the six, I’ve read four, and each has its own particular flavor, its own unique mood. While all of the books contain a mix of light and darkness, in this volume there seems to be more of a balance: “all that’s best of dark and bright,” if you will. The mood that Black Heart, Ivory Bones evoked in me was a wistfulness, maybe, or a pensiveness. When I first read the series, Black Thorn, White Rose was my favorite, but I’ve come to a deeper enjoyment of this volume as I’ve grown older. At this point I’d have to say the two are now tied in my mind.

My favorite stories in this collection are:

“Rapunzel... Read More

The Green Man: Read it slowly

The Green Man edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

In fairy tales, whenever someone journeys into the forest, you just know something strange is about to occur and that the protagonist’s life is going to be changed forever. The same is true of the stories and poems featured in The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest. With this collection, editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling kicked off a series of young adult anthologies, each devoted to a particular theme. Here, the theme is wild nature, and most of the stories feature teenage characters who encounter the wilderness and undergo a coming-of-age experience there.

Of course, I have my favorites. Delia Sherman contributes a tale of the Faery Queen of Central Park, and the insecure girl who faces her in a battle of wits. Read More

Troll’s Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales

Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Fairy tales were my first love when I was a child. My mother introduced me to the joys of stories with The Golden Book of Fairy Tales long before I learned how to read. My early reading included the first three volumes of The Junior Classics and Andrew Lang’s colorful fairy tale books. When Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling started editing anthologies of new takes on the old tales for adults with Snow White, Blood Red, I was delighted. And when Datlow and Windling started editing a series of original fiction for young adults based on fairy tales, I coul... Read More

Wings of Fire: I thought I didn’t like dragons

Wings of Fire edited by Jonathan Strahan & Marianne S. Jablon

I don't like dragons.

This is probably not the first sentence you'd expect to find in a review of Wings of Fire, an anthology devoted exclusively to dragon stories, but I thought it best to get it out of the way right from the start.

There's nothing inherently wrong with dragons. They're just terribly overused, one of those tired genre mainstays that people who typically don't read a lot of fantasy will expect in a fantasy novel because they were practically unavoidable for a long time. To this day, I confess to having to suppress a mental groan whenever I encounter them.

For a long time, I actively avoided reading any fantasy novel with the word dragon in the title. Granted, I made several exceptions to this rule in the past, most notably The King's Dragon by Read More

After: Like panning for gold

After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia by editors Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

When I saw the new Datlow and Windling anthology After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia, I was so excited. I love YA fiction, I love dyslit, I love short story anthologies and I love Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling as editors, so I figured it was a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, my reading experience didn’t live up to my expectations.

After is an anthology of short stories set after. After what? Alien invasion, plague, environmental collapse, asteroid strike, it doesn’t matter. Just after. This leaves a lot of room for the authors to be creative, as they all can choose different afters to explore, and it leaves the anthology feeling a bit disjointed as you hop from one disaster to another. Technically, most of th... Read More

Oz Reimagined: You might not even find yourself in Oz

Oz Reimagined edited by John Joseph Adams

Oz Reimagined is a collection of tales whose characters return as often, if not more often, to the "idea" of Oz as opposed to the actual Oz many of us read about as kids (or adults) and even more of us saw in the famed MGM version of the film. As its editors, John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen, say in their introduction: "You might not even find yourself in Oz, though in spirit, all these stories take place in Oz, regardless of their actual location." And actually, I personally found my favorites in here mostly to be those stories that did not hew too closely with Baum's characters or plots, but instead took the characters and skewed them, or sent them down a different path than the yellow-bricked one. Though as is often the case with anthologies, I found the collection as a whole a mixed bag, its stories evoking reactions varying from distaste to "meh" to "interesting" to "now that was cool."
... Read More

Other books by Jane Yolen

The Pit Dragon Chronicles — (1982-1987) Ages 9-12. An omnibus is available. Publisher: A bond servant in Master Sarkkhan’s dragon barns, young Jakkin Stewart hopes to obtain his freedom by stealing a dragon hatchling and secretly training it to become a champion fighter.

Pit Dragons Jane Yolen Book Reviews 1. Dragon's Blood 2. Heart's Blood 3. A Sending of DragonsPit Dragons Jane Yolen Book Reviews 1. Dragon's Blood 2. Heart's Blood 3. A Sending of DragonsPit Dragons Jane Yolen Book Reviews 1. Dragon's Blood 2. Heart's Blood 3. A Sending of Dragons 4. Dragon's HeartPit Dragons Jane Yolen Book Reviews 1. Dragon's Blood 2. Heart's Blood 3. A Sending of Dragons 4. Dragon's Heart

Books of the Great Alta — (1988-1989) Young adult. An omnibus edition containing the first to books is available. Publisher: The great goddess Alta creates two sister queens to rule the forces of darkness and light on Earth and challenges them to work in harmony as perfect and opposing reflections of one another.

Jane Yolen book review Books of the Great Alta 1. Sister Light, Sister Dark 2. White Jenna 3. The One-Armed QueenJane Yolen book review Books of the Great Alta 1. Sister Light, Sister Dark 2. White Jenna 3. The One-Armed QueenJane Yolen book review Books of the Great Alta 1. Sister Light, Sister Dark 2. White Jenna 3. The One-Armed Queen

Tales of King Arthur — (1990-1992) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Son of the Dragon. Thirteen-year-old Artos is not as good as swordsplay, romance, or any other knightly accomplishment as his foster brothers Cai, Bedvere, and Lancot. An orphan raised by the kindly Sir Ector, he doesn’t even know the identity for his parents. But one day, Artos stumbles into the cave of an old and lonely dragon who offers to teach him the game of wisdom. Artos accepts, and becomes the Pendragon — the son of the dragon, the dragon’s boy. And with the dragon’s guidance, Artos sets out on a journey to a remarkable destiny — one that he never dreamed could be his own.

Jane Yolen Tales of King Arthur: The Dragon's Boy 2. Sword of the Rightful KingJane Yolen Tales of King Arthur: The Dragon's Boy 2. Sword of the Rightful King

Young Merlin — (1996-1997) Ages 9-12. An omnibus edition is available. Publisher: This is the legendary story of Merlin — from his abandonment by his parents at the age of eight to the discovery of his powers at twelve. Together, these three novels reimagine the origins of the greatest wizard of all time, giving readers a Merlin at once more human and more magical than any that has appeared before.

Jane Yolen book reviews Young Merlin Trilogy 1. Passager 2. Hobby 3. MerlinJane Yolen book reviews Young Merlin Trilogy 1. Passager 2. Hobby 3. MerlinJane Yolen book reviews Young Merlin Trilogy 1. Passager 2. Hobby 3. Merlin

Tartan Magic — (1999-2002) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Welcome to Scotland, where magic runs through the land like the stripes in the colorful Scottish tartans. Everyone and everything here, it seems, has some wizardry — old folks at rest homes, dusty old card games, even cowardly dogs. The only ones without magic are American twins Jennifer and Peter, and they’re the ones who need it most.

Jane Yolen book reviews Tartan Magic 1. The Wizard's Map 2. The Pictish Child 3. The Bagpiper's GhostJane Yolen book reviews Tartan Magic 1. The Wizard's Map 2. The Pictish Child 3. The Bagpiper's GhostJane Yolen book reviews Tartan Magic 1. The Wizard's Map 2. The Pictish Child 3. The Bagpiper's Ghost

book review Jane Yolen The Wizard of Washington Square

The Wizard of Washington Square — (1969) Ages 9-12. Publisher: One day, while playing in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, David and Leilah are thrilled to discover a real wizard living behind the little black door in Washington Square Arch. Alas, he is only a second-class wizard, he tells them, and sometimes he has trouble with his spells. So when the Wizard accidentally turns David’s Scottish terrier, D. Dog, into a statue and the statue is stolen by Mr. Pickwell, a nasty antiques dealer, it’s up to David and Leilah to get D. Dog back — before Mr. Pickwell sells him!

The Magic Three of Solatiafantasy and science fiction book reviewsThe Magic Three of Solatia — (1974) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Three silver buttons… three magic wishesOnce there was Melinna, a mermaid who loved a prince. She shed her tail, walked painfully upon the land, and followed him up the hundred steps to his father’s hall. There she gave him a coat with three silver buttons that had come from the depths of the sea. These three buttons had the power to grant wishes, but only if twisted in a special way, and always with consequences…The prince, too enamored of himself to return Melinna’s love, took the coat, but did not listen to Melinna’s words. And the secret of the Magic Three was lost. Now Melinna is Dread Mary, the sea witch who sings sailors down to their deaths in the cold, sunless sea. Her only passion is for the buttons that shine on dead men’s coats — until her icy heart is melted by the plight of Sianna, a poor button maker’s daughter. It is Sianna who discovers the power of the three wishes, Sianna who must choose whether to use them — and face the consequences…Transfigured Hart

The Transfigured Hart — (1975) Ages 9-12. Publisher: A boy and a girl become convinced that the white deer they discover in the woods is a unicorn.The Mermaid's Three Wisdoms

The Mermaid’s Three Wisdoms — (1978) Ages 9-12. Publisher: A mermaid who cannot speak is banished from her undersea home and sent to live on land as a human where she is found by a 12-year-old girl with a hearing impairment.

Dream Weaver

Dream Weaver — (1979) Ages 9-12. Publisher: For a penny a dream, the old blind Dream Weaver weaves dreams for seven sets of passers-by.Cards of Grief

Cards of Grief — (1984) Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Winner.

The Stone Silenus — (1984) Publisher: A year after her father, a poet who identified with fauns and satyrs, has been found dead in a motel swimming pool, a strange faun-boy appears to Melissa, seeming to be the reincarnation of her beloved father’s spirit.

Wizard's Hall

The Stone Silenus

Wizard’s Hall — (1991) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Poor Henry. It’s not enough that his mother has sent him away from home to learn magic. It’s not enough that everyone at his new school calls him Thornmallow because he’s “prickly on the outside, squishy within.” It’s not enough that the only talent he shows at Wizard’s Hall is an ability to make messes of even the simplest spells. Now, when Wizard’s Hall is threatened by a cruel sorcerer’s fearsome beast, it is up to Henry — er, Thornmallow — to figure out how to save not only his new friends but also the entire school for wizards.

book review Jane Yolen Briar RoseBriar Rose — (1992) Young adult. Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Winner, Nebula and World Fantasy nominee. American Library Association’s 100 Best Books for Teens and Best Books for Young Adults. Publisher: A powerful retelling of Sleeping Beauty… Ever since she was a child, Rebecca has been enchanted by her grandmother Gemma’s stories about Briar Rose. But a promise Rebecca makes to her dying grandmother will lead her on a remarkable journey to uncover the truth of Gemma’s astonishing claim: I am Briar Rose. A journey that will lead her to unspeakable brutality and horror. But also to redemption and hope.The Wild Hunt

The Wild Hunt — (1995) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Two young boys become reluctant pawns in a showdown between light and dark, summer and winter, good and evil.

Boots and the Seven Leaguers: A Rock-and-Troll Novel Jane YolenBoots and the Seven Leaguers — (2000) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Gog is just your average teenager. Sure, he’s a troll, but he’s got typical teen problems: an irritating little brother, a best friend who’s nothing but trouble, and no tickets to his favorite band’s sold-out concert. There just might be a way to get into that concert, though. Magic. Now that’s a sure way to get into trouble…

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsThe Scarecrow’s Dance — (2009) Ages 9-12. The Scarecrow has always stood tall and straight, watching over the corn. Then one magical autumn night, he begins to stir. Free from his post, the scarecrow skips through the fields and leaps past the barn, dancing under the moon. But when he hears a young boy’s prayer for the farm, the scarecrow comes to understand where he belongs, and what he — only he — can do. From award winners Jane Yolen and Bagram Ibatoulline, this is a moving tale about questioning your place and discovering yourself.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsSnow in Summer — (2011) Young Adult. An unforgettable take on a favorite fairy tale by multi-award-winning author Jane Yolen. Summer’s life in the mountains of West Virginia feels like a fairy tale–her parents dote on her, and she’s about to get a new baby brother. But when the baby dies soon after he’s born, taking their mother with him, Summer’s life turns grim. Things get even worse when her father marries a woman who brings poisons and magical mirrors into Summer’s world. Stepmama puts up a pretty face and Summer’s father is under her spell, but Summer suspects she’s up to no good — and is afraid she is powerless to stop her.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsCurse of the Thirteenth Fey — (2011) Young Adult. A reimagining of Sleeping Beauty from a master storyteller. Gorse is the thirteenth and youngest in a family of fairies tied to the evil king’s land and made to do his bidding. Because of an oath made to the king’s great-great-ever-so-many-times-great-grandfather, if they try to leave or disobey the royals, they will burst into a thousand stars. When accident-prone Gorse falls ill just as the family is bid to bless the new princess, a fairytale starts to unfold. Sick as she is, Gorse races to the castle with the last piece of magic the family has left –a piece of the Thread of Life. But that is when accident, mayhem, and magic combine to drive Gorse’s story into the unthinkable, threatening the baby, the kingdom, and all. With her trademark depth, grace, and humor, Jane Yolen tells readers the “true” story of the fairy who cursed Sleeping Beauty.



More speculative fiction by Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple

The Seelie Wars — (2013-2014) Ages 8 and up. Publisher: Snail and Prince Aspen are unlikely companions. Snail is a midwife’s apprentice; Aspen is a prince held hostage to prevent a war. Due to a series of misunderstandings, the two find themselves on the run, having adventure after mishap after scary, fast-paced escape. When they reach Aspen’s kingdom, they learn to their horror that their actions have divided the country and plunged it into violence. Every minute counts: it is time for Snail and Aspen to figure out a way to stop the building war — together.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsfantasy and science fiction book reviews

Click here for more stories by Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple.