“The Maiden Thief,” by Melissa Marr

“The Maiden Thief,” by Melissa Marr.

I’ve lost track of where this particular recommendation came from, but I think I was looking specifically for some stories edited by Ellen Datlow. πŸ™‚

Content warning in the comments.

NOTE: Whoops! I’d missed that this story was published in January 2016. So, those of you looking specifically for Hugo-eligible 2015 material – this ain’t it. Still a good story, though πŸ™‚

Read the story:

The Maiden Thief

6 thoughts on ““The Maiden Thief,” by Melissa Marr”

  1. NOTE: Whoops! I’d missed that this story was published in January 2016. So, those of you looking specifically for Hugo-eligible 2015 material – this ain’t it. Still a good story, though πŸ™‚

    1. Agreed. This one was much more fairy-tale-ish — I’m not sure if it’s a straight-up re-telling of Bluebeard, or not-quite, but it’s definitely in that ballpark.

    2. Yes, a more-or-less straight telling of "Bluebeard", with allusions to "Beauty and the Beast" (for example the time her father gave her a rose after returning from a business trip). Have you read "The Glass Bottle Trick" by Nalo Hopkinson? An amazing version of Bluebeard. Then there’s "Bluebeard’s Egg" by Margaret Atwood, which isn’t fantastic, but a very good contemporary short story.

  2. The interesting thing about this story is Verena, of course. She spends so many years trying to figure out what she’s supposed to do. No shortage of people telling her what to do, especially her father, and yet their expectations are contradictory and impossible. Is she supposed to be the scholar or the homemaker? Both roles fit her like a wrong-size dress. Is she supposed to hold her family together? She can’t please her father, she can’t save her sisters, there’s no happiness. Is she supposed to atone? No amount of atoning could ever be "enough". Is she supposed to be Jakob’s Good Wife? She couldn’t if she wanted to because the standards he holds her up to are (besides being monstrous) completely impossible to keep up. In the end, nothing anyone else tells her provides her with a workable model to live her life by. All she has are her own resources: an unflinching courage honed by suffering, a sense of justice, and a hatred of cruelty. She knows cruelty intimately, which has helped her understand what she needs to do to fight it. The fairy-tale elements of this story are there to make the situation so extreme that it’s obvious: Jakob is such a complete monster that she is obviously at the end of all choices and must take a stand. And once she’s forced to completely abandon the roles that everyone else imposes on her, she can see what she wants to do with the rest of her life. (And also the fairy-tale structure of the story gives it an air of inevitability that increases suspense and dread.)

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