There's nothing like a good fairy tale collection for stories of intrigue, betrayal, fortune, and royal murder. If you’ve already blown through Hans Christian Andersen and the brothers Grimm's volumes of fairy tales, try a few Ukrainian folk tales, first published in 1894.
British historian and noted polygot Robert Nisbet Bain translated the stories, drawn from three different collections, from Ruthenian—a Slavic dialect once spoken in what is now Ukraine and elsewhere. He published this edition of Cossack Fairy Tales in 1916. (The term Cossack refers to a member of an ethnic and social group, known in the Russian Empire for their military service, who hailed mostly from modern Ukraine and Russia.)
The book contains dark morality tales (one ends with a character “tied to the tails of wild horses and torn to pieces in the endless steppes”) and myths like “The Origin of the Mole” (hint: it has to do with a greedy farmer). These stories bear a passing resemblance to the European fairy tales made popular by people like the Grimm brothers and Walt Disney. Not surprisingly, they feature lots of royalty, though princesses become tsarevnas. But they also contain elements uniquely their own—Bain notes in the preface to the collection that features such as magic handkerchiefs and hemp-and-tar whips with the power to expel demons aren’t found in other European folk tales.
Go ahead and flip through for yourself.
[h/t: Public Domain Review]