BOOK REVIEW: The Wilful Eye (Tales from the Tower Volume One)  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: The Wilful Eye (Tales from the Tower Volume One)

Author: Isobelle Carmody

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

RRP: $27.99

ISBN: 9781742374406

Release Date: April 2011


Six of the world's most exciting and best-loved writers have chosen fairytales as inspiration for this spellbinding and subversive short-story collection.


Six writers - Margo Lanagan, Rosie Borella, Isobelle Carmody, Richard Harland, Margaret Mahy and Martine Murray - have taken inspiration from stories that have shaped us all, tales like 'Beauty and the Beast,' 'The Steadfast Tin Soldier' and 'The Snow Queen'. This collection carries universal themes of envy and desire, deception and abandonment, courage and sacrifice.

Characters are enchanted, they transgress, they yearn, they hunger, they hate and, sometimes, they kill.

Some of the stories inhabit a traditional fairytale world, while others are set in the distant future. Some are set in the present and some in an alternative present. The stories offer no prescription for living or moral advice and none belong in a nursery.

Open the covers and submit to their enchantment.


2006 Winner of Australian Book Industry Award (Young Children) for Little Fur: The Legend of Little Fur

2005 Winner of Aurealis Award (Young Adult) for Alyzon Whitestarr

1994 Winner of CBC Book of the Year for The Gathering

1991 CBC Honour Book (Older Readers) for Farseekers: the Obernewtyn Chronicles

About Isobelle Carmody and Nan McNab (eds)

Isobelle Carmody has had over 30 books and many short stories published. She is now working on the last book of her award-winning fantasy series, The Obernewtyn Chronicles, and on a second collection of her own short stories, titled Metro Winds. She lives between Prague in Central Europe and her home on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, with her partner and daughter.

Nan McNab is a writer and editor whose books include Body Bizarre Body Beautiful and Victoria's Market. She lives in Airey's Inlet, Victoria


Isobelle Carmody and Nan McNab have collated a collection of well known fairy tales with a modern twist and spin by half a dozen of the best Australian fantasy writers around. particularly needling tale, teasing out the universal truths and nightmares along with some more personal ones. The result is sublime, with each tale landing a punch squarely between the old and the new, bewitching and terrifying, topped off with an individual twist.

The modern tales include; Margo Lanagan’s ‘The Tinderbox’ is a study of the disparity between classes. ‘The Snow Queen’ by Rosie Borella a tale of drug addiction. Martine Murray’s hands, ‘The Steadfast Tin Soldier’ transforms into an evocative existential exposition, while Margaret Mahy recasts ‘Babes in the Woods’ as a triumphant coming-of-age tale. Richard Harland’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and Carmody’s ‘Rumplestiltskin’, are quite different from the original tales, but very much how you expect the original author intended to write the story. The collection will appeal to both the YA and adult market.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 12:39 AM . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


While there are some beautifully crafted stories in this collection, Margo Lanagan's contribution horrified me with its explicit and cruel rape scene, unrepentant protagonist and misogynistic POV. In comparison the other writers chose to explore some tough, adult-themed issues with strong, positive, proactive female protagonists.

June 8, 2011 at 1:42 AM

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