(Note: I received a free copy of this ebook for review through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.)
Anthologies sometimes suffer from a lack of cohesion, but is this always a bad thing? In the case of Grimm, Grit, and Gasoline: Dieselpunk and Decopunk Fairy Tales, the broad range in moods, styles, and settings highlights the amazing potential of fairy tales and the -punk genres. Yes, the short stories in this collection are all fairy tales or folk tales; yes, they are all dieselpunk/decopunk. But even the anthology editor, Rhonda Parrish, acknowledges in the introduction that she expanded the reach of the anthology, by allowing a fairy tale set beyond the World Wars and times commonly associated with flappers, aviators, and the booming industry. This exception (“늑대 – The Neugdae” by Juliet Harper, which is set during the Korean War) is great and still fulfills the fabulist angle, in a searing (if not somewhat triggering) and memorable way.
I was impressed with the creativity of these stories: Journey to the West in the Dust Bowl, Cinderella meets The Great Gatsby in a detective noir, and many other historical and cultural mashups that are at the bare minimum very creative and at their best so clever that they made me a little envious as a writer! Parrish did an excellent job curating and organizing this collection; the opening stories are particularly strong, but they all work well.
Grimm, Grit, and Gasoline is an excellent example at how restrictions on one’s writing (by genre, theme, etc.) can create such fantastical and novel tales. Nearly all of the stories are champions of the concept that prompts like “Pinocchio in World War I-era Italy” (“Salvage” by A.A. Medina) or “Swan Lake but in World War II with a magical talking airplane” (“The Loch” by Zannier Alejandra) have an almost infinite amount of possible outcomes.
Some of the stories ran a bit long – “The Loch” and “To Go West” in particular felt like they could have served better at least as novellas – but ultimately, they were all enjoyable. Grimm, Grit, and Gasoline: Dieselpunk and Decopunk Fairy Tales is definitely worth reading, especially if you are interested in genre-mixing!