I have a soft spot for revamped fairy tales - but it's rare that I find one that really captures my imagination. A lazy or inexperienced writer could easily fall on the "story from your childhood (or Disney film) - but now full of gore/sex/as noir/all of the above!!" for shock value, but those sorts of stories, quite frankly, bore me to tears. Part of this is probably because I was exposed to Angela Carter's "The Bloody Chamber" as a teen, and thus never really had the patience for inferior retellings. Luckily, today's short story reminds me of Carter's work, in all the best ways.
"So Sharp That Blood Must Flow" is a take on The Little Mermaid, specifically the Hans Christian Andersen imagining that takes the ending of the tale - where, instead of turning into foam when her prince chooses another for his bride, she stays alive through a blend of magic and pure force of will in order to exact her revenge on all who wronged her.
This story is filled with anger - an anger that is totally justifiable. The mermaid has bartered with her soul, and has been through agonies, physical and emotional, for someone who cast her aside. It's much more understandable than her death being a beautiful, tragic thing, like in the original tale. This is not a mermaid who is willing to die for the convenience of someone else's happy ending. Speaking of endings, Moraine does a wonderfully unsettling job of making the reader feel as if "So Sharp That Blood Must Flow" is something we are not meant to be reading; the storybook has closed, and the children should be sleeping. This is the nasty, brutal, complicated aftermath of that story. And that, really, is the darkest thing a fairytale can be.
You can read "So Sharp That Blood Must Flow" at Lightspeed Magazine here - and, if you enjoy stories involving Geordies and floating nightclubs, you can read my own take on The Little Mermaid at Holdfast Magazine here.
Musings on my life as a writer.