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Everyone knows the story of Snow White, but not the way Lauren Slater tells it. In the introduction to Blue Beyond Blue: Extraordinary Tales for Ordinary Dilemmas, Slater calls her collection of fairy tales for adults—not to be confused with “adult” fairy tales—a tool for “narrative therapy.” Many of the 16 stories here focus on some kind of heartache—a suddenly severed relationship (“My Girlfriend’s Arm”), a marriage knocked off-balance when one spouse changes (“Morphed”), a mother’s angst over her daughter’s impending independence (the title tale). Each is full of raw emotion and told with graceful language, though some get a bit overblown. Take the estrogen fest that “Blue Beyond Blue” becomes when a woman who ached for a daughter and eventually received one via a bird’s egg confesses her attempts to keep the girl from leaving home: “[T]he mother cried in the telling, cried with a handkerchief wadded at her mouth, and the daughter cried too, and said, ‘Shhh, shhhh,’ and they kissed and tasted each other’s tears.” More often, however, the stories are sad and surprisingly blunt given their once-upon-a-time-ness: “A Daughter’s Tale,” for instance, about an Asian girl who wants to bind her feet despite her mother’s objections, gives a graphic description of the girl’s memory of her conception and birth (“The blood, it was menstrual, dark and blackish on her hand, and in it she smelled my sex and time”). And in “Ruby Red,” Slater’s variation on the Brothers Grimm classic, Snow White’s stepmother sets a few things straight—she’s actually the girl’s real mother, for one thing, and she doesn’t dislike her merely for her beauty ( “Did I really birth this boring angel?” she asks, later to admit, “Okay, so I’m a bitch”). Slater, a psychologist, encourages her patients to write their own tales such as these, in order to gain the ability to “create new plotlines for problem-saturated stories” in their own lives. And anyone wishing to dig beneath the surface may find that Blue Beyond Blue can teach her a little something about herself. But whatever their therapeutic value, Slater’s collection at least provides fans of the fantastic an escape—albeit to a world more grown-up than your typical Harry Potter fan might expect.—Tricia Olszewski