When I found out about this book with scary folktales from around the world, I immediately tracked down a copy. So let me tell you what I liked about it…
In the book Outfoxing Fear, Kathleen Ragan collected folktales with a common theme: how to deal with fear. She grouped these stories in chapters like ‘desperate courage,’ ‘friend or foe?’ and ‘using speculation machines.’ Each chapter has a personal introduction.
I bought the book, I read the book, and in this review, I will tell you about what I liked and what I missed.
💡 The links to books on this page are affiliate links to Amazon. Whenever you buy something after clicking on such a link, I get a little percentage. This costs you nothing but helps me make this website possible. Thanks!
💡 The links to books on this page are affiliate links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Whenever you buy something after clicking on such a link, I get a little percentage. This costs you nothing but helps me make this website possible. Thanks!
Outfoxing Fear: What I Liked
I liked this book a lot for several reasons.
First, I liked the personal reflections of the author. She starts most chapters with a personal story, connecting her to the folktales of the chapter.
At the beginning of the book, she relates how the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Twin Towers impacted her and her family. She felt powerless. She felt afraid.
At that moment, she turned to scary folktales from around the world, reading one with the ominous title ‘What Are You the Most Scared Of?’
Later, she relates the folktales to her children’s fears and her fears about her children.
Second, I liked the culturally diverse selection of folktales, from Canada to Australia and Africa to Ukraine. They are placed together in chapters with different topics related to ‘outfoxing fear.’
There are scary folktales in there, but not all folktales are scary. It is not a scary story collection like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. It is much more a collection of folktales that helps you deal with fears.
The folktales are chosen out of many folktale collections worldwide. If you have read many folktales before, you will undoubtedly be familiar with some of them.
Third, the book contains extensive notes, which makes it easy to find more information about a folktale that interests you.
Outfoxing Fear: What I Missed
The collection of folktales in this book is excellent. The personal reflections and anecdotes are beautiful and deepen your understanding of the folktales.
The author frequently talks about telling these stories. However, I think the book could have used a small chapter giving budding storytellers some advice on how to start telling the folktales from this book.
You might say that there are many books about how to tell stories. And that’s true. Still, I think a chapter with some practical guidance would help beginners tell these folktales. And in the end, it is in the sharing and telling that we process our fears.
💡 I recently wrote a guide on how to tell scary stories.
About the author: Kathleen Ragan
You cannot find much information online about Kathleen Ragan. However, when you read the book, you get to know her through her reflections.
‘Outfoxing Fear’ is not the first book she has written. I haven’t read it, but ‘Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales’ (link to Amazon) also sounds like a pretty solid book.
You can find all her books here (link to Amazon).
Final thoughts & Sources
My conclusion is that this book is a good buy for everyone interested in folktales dealing with fear. It will not only give you a wide selection of material, but it will also make you think and ponder about your fears.
I will leave you with a beautiful quote out of the book:
“Folktales are champions of the small act which has huge ramifications -sharing a crust of bread wins the throne, a song of stubbornness defeats a monster. Folktales champion ordinary people-the stupid third son or the cast-off daughter. The one action of an ordinary person, be it telling the truth, telling a lie, or inviting enemies to a feast, can change the world. Folktales live in small places, close to home.”Kathleen Ragan, Outfoxing fear, p.208
💡 Once a month, I send out an email with new writings on storytelling and fairy tales.