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**One of Largehearted Boy's Favorite Short Story Collections of 2021**


“By turns witty and dark, extravagant and savage.” – Locus 

“Retelling and reimagining stories from pop culture to Shakespeare, in this sophomore collection, Fawkes cements herself as a master of the short story.” – Buzzfeed 

“When [Fawkes] reimagines these classics, she wrings another layer of meaning from them—the adult layer, the shades of gray, the ability to perceive the humanity within the so-called monster.” – Chicago Review of Books

“Fawkes’s stories don’t simply long to provide motivation for a character’s badness . . . but rather her collection is united around characters suffering from pervasive loneliness and longing for love—two human qualities anyone, villain or victim, could understand.” – Ploughshares 

“Rather than restricting ingenuity, the source material acts as a catalyst for fresh, unexpected revisions of familiar tales. Fortunately, no story feels like an apologia or an excuse for bad behavior. Instead we are asked to see what these characters' struggles reveal about who they are, not as archetypes but as people . . . or in one case, as a whale.” – The Rupture

“Another remarkable book from one of our most talented short fiction writers.” – Largehearted Boy

“Looking for a book in which Medusa and Hamlet’s uncle both make appearances? This one should fill that niche perfectly. Do you like literary villains? Do you enjoy meditations on love? Well then.” – Vol. 1 Brooklyn

“Fawkes seems to recognize – and invites you to recognize in her elegiac prose – the near-redemptive power of knowing yourself.” – South Carolina Review

“I’ll never see Mrs. Danvers, or the novel Rebecca, in quite the same way, and the new perspectives on this popular villain, and on the larger story, make both more haunting for me.” – Small Press Picks

"With empathy and wit, Jen Fawkes explores the inner lives of reviled or marginalized characters—from Rumpelstiltskin’s desire to nurture a child to Medusa’s struggles with dating to the heartbreaking backstory of the witch who devoured Hansel and Gretel. In re-imagining characters displaced from their own stories, sabotaged by their own wild pasts, Fawkes offers welcome revisions to the familiar stories that have made and unmade us."
                                                                      —Amy Bonnaffons, author of The Regrets

"What a clever, mercurial, metaphorical, topsy-turvy book of imaginings Tales the Devil Told Me is. By subverting our notions of notorious villains, Jen Fawkes has conjured a magic talking mirror whose words reveal our collective humanity and vulnerability. This is a marvel of storytelling filled with delicious surprises."
                                                                   —Sharma Shields, author of The Cassandra

"Nimble, wired, savvy, unpredictable, playful and poignant, the slant-tellings and narrative shortcircuitings that constitute Tales the Devil Told Me remind us with every story that literature is ever passionately intertextual, every piece a kind of thank-you letter to all the others that have informed, reformed, and deformed it."
                                                                       —Lance Olsen, author of My Red Heaven

"Tales the Devil Told Me takes our most memorable literary villains hostage and unhinges everything you thought you knew about them. Humorous and heartbreaking, these tales will have you laughing, crying, and questioning the worlds of our literary classics."
                                 --Sequoia Nagamatsu, author of How High We Go in the Dark

"In Tales the Devil Told Me, Jen Fawkes plumbs the depths of fairy tales and literary classics with equal ease, extending storylines beyond the bounds of the originals or giving rich and complex voices to formerly minor characters. Whether she is inhabiting the stepson of a reformed Captain Hook or the dour housekeeper of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, she moves with such creativity, skill, and confidence that you leave the tale marked by the indelible version she has created, feeling that, at last, you know the real story."
                                 —Anjali Sachdeva, author of All the Names They Used for God

Winner 2020 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction

Tales the Devil Told Me, a story collection by Jen Fawkes

What if Captain Hook gave up marauding and took a gig at the Post Office? How did Hamlet's uncle Claudius become such a rat? What might happen if a plastic surgeon fell for Medusa? If Moby Dick could write a letter, what would he say to Ahab? The answers to these and many other questions can be found in Tales the Devil Told Me by Jen Fawkes - winner of the 2020 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction.


These twelve stories examine the possible lives of such classic literary villains as Professor Moriarty, Shere Khan, Rumpelstiltskin, Polyphemus, Mrs. Danvers and others, while illuminating the consumptive nature of love, the crushing weight of isolation, the false promise of beauty, and the power of storytelling itself.

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