I had misgivings when I started this book, as its as much more a book about fairy tales than a book OF fairy tales. But by the end I was totally won over, and am seriously considering reading more by W. S. Ralston.
It is set up so that theres a tale followed by a brief (the authors word, not mine) discussion of the storys merits, meanings, possible origins and closest relatives, with many of those being summarized and discussed in turn. Its undeniably informative, and incredibly well-written; the more I read of it, the more I wanted to read of it.
The fifty or so tales included are well-told and interesting, and can be easily accessed from the active Table of Contents. Footnotes were included for further discussions and citations, and were all properly linked to throughout the text.
I have to recommend this book because I learned more about fairy tales than I ever thought there was to learn. A merry collection of folktales stretching from Murmansk to Ugolnyye Kopi. I enjoyed the simple Cinderella stories and learned more about the culture than I ever hoped I would. Classic tales from Russia in the beautiful way told that I remember from Saratov summers on the Volga.