Marthese reviews Sappho’s Fables, Volume 1: Three Lesbian Fairy Tale Novellas by Elora Bishop

Sappho's Fables by Elora Bishop and Jennifer Diemer

This month I’ve finally managed to read another retelling that has been on my TBR for years! There’s the bonus that it’s three retellings not one too! Sappho’s Fables Volume 1 by the amazing Elora Bishop (aka Bridget Essex) – who writes some good fantasy – gives us three sapphic retellings of classical fairy tales with imaginative twists.

“I saw nothing by red and Neve”

Seven is a retelling of snow white. Catalina is a young new wife to a horrible man that experiments on her. She finds herself attracted to his ‘daughter’ Neve. She finds out that he has had 6 wives before, all in the search of immortality. Together, Neve and Catalina break this cycle. This story had horror elements and there was an interesting play with fairy tale elements and sayings.

“My mother is lost to the world of spells, and I am lost to the world in which terrible things happen to good people”

Braided is the retelling of Rapunzel. Gray’s mother sewed Gray’s fate as guardian of the Holity on another child – Zelda. Every day Gray goes to bring her food even though she doesn’t need it. After encountering a magical travelling fair connected with her dreams, Gray realizes she has to try to free Zelda. There were no bad guys here just people trying their best and making mistakes. A lot of casual queerness and acceptance too.

“Animals can be stopped by fear. Animals think. Ragers don’t”

Crumbs is the retelling of Hansel and Gretel. This is possibly my first ever story that I read with zombies and I actually liked it! Han and Greta live with their parents near heaps of trash where they scravage. They have to be careful of the ragers who were once human and have been infected. Their parents leave and the two decide to try to reach the metal forest, which turns out to be a city. There they are safe with Sabine and her brother Robert. Han is always sleeping and Sabine is always offering Greta food…I’m not sure I like the not-honest part but having already read another queer retelling of this story, I quite like this one.

All three stories had clear elements that identified the stories but were also fresh and new. I had many ‘ohhhhhhh’ moments when these elements such as apples, the huntsman, hair, rampions, sweets and witches were used. The retellings don’t focus only on the romance but offer a good story and the stories are short enough that can be read during one or two work breaks!

I’d recommend this book for lovers of fairy tale retellings, fantasy and imaginative tales and especially ‘Crumbs’ for newcomers to the zombie genre like me.

Marthese reviews Cage the Darlings by Elora Bishop


I love fairytales, especially those with a queer twist so I had to pick this book up! The story is about Envy, a thief working as a servant for a scheme she came up with and Merle, the blackbird princess who visits Envy once she gets locked up in Bran Tower. It is a romantic story but with a lot of personal changes and adventures. It is 104 pages in which Bishop weaves mysteries and magic.

The blurb of the book, which I did not read before reading the book, gives most of the story away. However, there are still a lot of elements and story building to be discovered.

In the beginning as we see the story from Envy’s point of view, you really get the impression that it is told from a classic, boastful and slightly evil voice. It is quite fun. Envy and Belinda both come from a family of thieves who grew up in Vice Quarters and both have good instincts which are useful for their adventures.

Envy starts out with having really good luck, in fact, she brags about it to her ever loyal friend Belinda who followed her in the castle working as a servant. As the story unfolds however, her fortunes change. We get the impression as she later realized that her bad fortune was her greatest fortune after all. Envy’s greatest fault is probably pride since she is always trying to prove herself, which lends her in some trouble towards the middle of the story where she gets banished to Bran Tower. In the time at the tower, it feels both like time is moving fast thanks to the jump cuts and inactivity but it also feels lethargic.

Interestingly I found the theme of freedom vs. time in a moment in the tower very realistic. Sometimes we are willing to do nearly everything to have a moment of ‘total freedom’ but when we are presented with the opportunity, it almost feels like we are not ready, that we want more time with non-freedom.

Bishop has this intricate way of weaving things in threes either through ideas, mentioning of the number three or thrice or by repeating conjunctions three times. Three here is really a magic number; after all, Envy found love in the third woman that we see her get close to, although it is much gentler and with more feelings than the previous two. Bishop also has a way with adjectives; she uses the seemingly perfect words to describe things.

There are short stories within the main story; stories of childhood and past and fairytales which Envy had heard or read. No story however, is said without purpose.

Envy changes as the story moves forward. She faces regrets, guilt and insecurity, she misses her friends and she falls in love. The romance is quite sweet and although there are some trust issues, both Merle and Envy eventually work through that.

There were sweet characters who we and the protagonist thought would be evil, there were funny characters, average characters and evil characters.

Overall, I found this fairytale quite interesting, however, I think I would enjoy some other writings by Elora Bishop more. Although a towards the end there was a twist, most of the things were predictable but it still is a sweet and light read.