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Reviewed by Jessica Jesinghaus for Readers' Favorite
These are fairy tales and fables with bite! And They Lived by Sabrina Zbasnik is a deliciously wicked collection of nine short stories. Each tale turns familiar parables on their ear, twisting them in dark and devious directions. These damsels are rarely in distress. Take, for example, Red, a twist on Little Red Riding Hood, in which our titular character is a contract killer under the employ of a shadow agency lead by the (aptly) code-named “Grandmother.” Or The Tower which puts a devilish twist on the Rapunzel tale. Another refreshing offering was Destiny, in which we get a glimpse of what might come to pass when a king refuses to kill his firstborn child, despite a prophecy asserting that the child will kill him. My personal favorite was The Fifth Horseman. It had such a lyrical, poetic quality to its prose; it was absolutely magical.
Each tale offered up in And They Lived has its own unique tone and flavor. Some stories are quite short (no more than a couple pages) while others are a bit longer, but each manages to convey so much and packs quite a punch. I was also pleasantly surprised when I noticed the author’s deviation from the standard copyright blurb at the book’s start; her comedic and off-beat Foreword gives readers a hint of what they’re in for. Sabrina Zbasnik has mastered the art of the short story, which is no small feat, and I’m eager to delve into more works by this author.