Returning My Sister’s Face by Eugie Foster
I have several theories about cover songs. One of them is, a truly excellent cover can stand on its own. Sure, if you are familiar with the song that a band is covering, you can gain a certain amount of pleasure from comparing the differences, but often the cover really can’t be enjoyed on its own merits. In the case of something like “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell, arguably one of the best covers ever, it can be appreciated without any notion that Gloria Jones did it first.
The same goes for adaptations and retellings. If you know the story to begin with, a retelling is given a leg up. But if you’re unfamiliar with the source material, the author has a job to do.
In Returning My Sister’s Face, Eugie Foster pulls from the rich well of Far Eastern tales for this anthology of adaptations and “inspired bys.” These are stories that I am pretty much unfamiliar with and, happily, Foster gives them the Soft Cell treatment. While the anthology is named for the final tale, a traditional ghost story, I think “Thread of Silk” is the crown gem. Mae is great character and Foster uses her to explore how women can use force as well as soft power. And this story has a bit more of an epic outlook, which is always welcome in the realm of fairy tales.
From a craft perspective, culture is handled with a light touch. Definitely some for me to learn from especially when I get back around to writing Fuel Eaters.
Creamy skin, red lips, prayers to the spirits. These things seem to link these stories.
The first two stories were nice, sweet fairy tales.
The third, “A Thread of Silk,” knocked my socks off. Mae in the third story. Warrior woman w/in the bounds of warrior women. Accepting of that place and willing to act from w/in it. (I’d like those kind of characters in Fuel Eaters.) A woman’s soft power might lead to harder choices. And oh, a bitter dealing with gods.