A review of Rhonda Parrish’s Mrs. Claus: Not the Fairy Tale They Say (World Weaver Press, 2017)
By Derek Newman-Stille
Traditionally, Mrs. Claus is presented as a secondary figure in the Santa Claus myth – so much so that she doesn’t even have a name but derives all of her identity from her husband. She is generally depicted as a dutiful wifely figure whose main tasks are baking cookies and doing care work for Santa. She is presented as the perfect embodiment of hetero-patriarchy. Rhonda Parrish’s anthology Mrs. Claus: Not the Fairy Tale They Say fundamentally disrupts this image and presents a variety of images of Mrs. Claus as an empowered, active figure.
Because little mythical work has been done constructing Mrs. Claus in the past, the writers in the Mrs. Claus anthology were given a lot of room to work with in constructing the identity of Mrs. Claus, so the stories in the anthology were able to venture across a wide variety of possible narratives. Authors drew on genres as disparate as Science Fiction, Fantasy, Steam Punk, and even Horror in their constructions of a Mrs. Claus narrative.
In addition to the North Pole location for her home, Mrs. Claus is taken to other planets filled with scorpion-like aliens, underground in goblin caves, an asylum, the fairy realms, and airship-filled skies. These are mighty women and often the stories present Mrs. Claus as the origin point for the Yuletide holidays, and Santa only as a figurehead. These Mrs. Clauses are Valkyries, baby-snatching fairy queens, witches, monster hunters, airship pilots, and detectives solving crimes. These aren’t dowdy women who spend their time baking cookies – these are warriors.
To find out more about Rhonda Parrish, go to https://www.rhondaparrish.com
To discover more about Mrs. Claus: Not the Fairy Tale They Say, go to http://rhondaparrish.com/archive/anthologies/mrs-claus/
Reviewed by Derek Newman-Stille, MA, PhD ABD (They/Them)