I must tell you about this book I’ve been reading. It’s a collection of short stories, dark fairy tale/folklore retellings by some AMAZING writers. (I found some new authors to read!!) Not all the stories are super dark, but most of them are right down my alley, and I gotta say, I found it immediately inspiring. Like, nothing gets my brain spinning faster than some awesome, twisted storytelling. ^_^
Some of them were in a contemporary settings, some futuristic, some historical, some a random fantasy land. Some of them were so disturbing I was still venting about them two days later. Overall though, most of the stories are amazing, or at least really good, and they are why I love this book so much.
That said, I didn’t love ALL the stories. So before I get to my favoritest ones in the bunch, I want to mention the ones I liked, the ones I thought were just okay, and the ones I just flat out hated.
Beast/Beast – Beauty and the Beast (Tessa Gratton) – It was beautiful, but probably didn’t quite reach it’s potential. I love how she dealt with the whole enchanted castle bit, and the beast in this was really sweet, though I found the description of him to be a tad gross for my taste.
Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tongue – Diamonds and Toads (Christine Johnson aka The Editor) – This could have been better, like, without giving anything away, I felt like all the characters overreacted a bit, but the description was stellar, and the dialogue, though a tad dramatic in places, was great, as was the characterization.
The Raven Princess – The Raven (Jon Skovron) – There was just nothing unique about this. I also thought the ending was kind of lame.
Before the Rose Bloomed – The Snow Queen (Ellen Hopkins) – I only put this story in the middle pile because of the ending. I have read other retellings that have ending differently. It was just nice to get the ending I wanted for a change. But there were some things in this story that just didn’t make sense and didn’t need to be there. And it was told in verse. And I HATED that. There is so much more you can do with this material! (end rant)
Light It Up – Hansel & Gretel (Kimberly Derting) – I wanted to like this more than I did. The style of storytelling doesn’t work for me (like I hate it when the narrator is talking to the reader, you know directly addressing them and calling attention to the fact that I’m reading a story.) But other than that, I liked the spin the author took on the source material. It was gross, but different.
Beauty and the Chad – Beauty and the Beast (Sarah Rees Brennan) – I really wanted to like this. As is were, it’s an interesting story, but not good. It was quite the mess actually, mixing modern stuff with old timey fairy stuff and it failed, like epic-ly, but this it was fun and hilarious and sometimes that’s enough.
The Pink – The Pink (Amanda Hocking) – I had never heard of this folktale before so I had no basis of comparison, though I’m told it deviates little from the original. It was sweet. I didn’t hate it, but I wasn’t real motivated to go out and read the original.
Untethered – The Shroud (Sonia Gensler) – Another one I’d never heard of, and another one I don’t feel the need to ever read again. I had no idea what was going on and then when I found out what was going on, I didn’t care. Starting off stories with people mourning is hard because we don’t know the character yet, so it’s hard to care about what they care about, you know.
Better – The Pied Piper (Shaun David Hutchinson) – This was just weird. I liked the concept, but I couldn’t tell if the characters were 12 or 20 and that is a big turn off for me. Also the “pied piper”…it just wasn’t working for me. There’s a really pointless scene in here where the piper is getting abused, and half of the ending just made absolutely no sense. Hated it.
A Real Boy – Pinocchio (Claudia Gray) – There wasn’t really anything really wrong with this story, it was just way too syrupy for my taste. Which is really a shame because I thought the world building in this was great.
Skin Trade – The Robber Bridegroom (Myra McEntire) – This is kind of unfair to the author because I really don’t like this fairy tale; it’s gross. But this retelling is even worse. The author was trying way too hard. The characters were unlikable. I didn’t feel like I got to know them at all. I thought the guys were vampires for half the story. This was terrible. And gross. And pointless. Won’t be reading this again.
Sell Out – Snow White (Jackson Pearce) – Another one I wished I could have like. It started off great. And then it wasn’t. And then it was over. And I was left with a sour taste in my mouth over the shortest and last story in the book. Way too short to be any good, world building super-fail. Not how I wanted to end things.
The Key – Bluebeard (Rachel Hawkins)
This is short, and I’m not a fan of open-ish endings, but I instantly feel in love with the writing and found it instantly inspiring. Great use of backstory, description, and dialogue, and a great opener to this anthology.
Figment – Puss in Boots (Jon Skovron)
This is a little weird and had to grow on me, but I find myself really liking it. The characters were great and so real and relatable, and that helped me get over the initial WTF feeling I had when I first started reading.
The Twelfth Girl – The Twelve Dancing Princesses (Malinda Lo)
This is another one that had to grow on me. This is one of my favorite stories so I was extra hard on the author. 🙂 In the end, I ended up really liking it. The description was great and I loved how visceral the storytelling was.
Thinner Than Water – Donkey Skin (Saundra Mitchell)
Serious trigger alert, but what I loved, is that I could tell right away it was going to get really dark (and creepy and gross) really fast, so I was at least prepared. This was based off a story I’ve only read once so I didn’t really know what to expect from a retelling. I have to say, this author is amazing. The ending was rushed, but I forgive her because she did such a great job with everything else.
The Brother’s Piggett – The Three Little Pigs (Julie Kagawa)
Hands down my favorite story in the book. It was perfection. It was vivid and emotional and exciting. I fell in love with it right away, and immediately ran out to find more from this author. This was one of those stories that was so good I talked to it, you know. Like, “Oh, no! Watch out! OMG!” Lol!
While I do tend to be a bigger fan of more abstract retellings because I love the feeling of being lost in a familiar place with everything feeling so new yet strange, there is no clear winner on style or setting. I liked the contemporary retellings just as much as I liked the more tradition style retellings. I liked the stories that stuck to the originals just as much as I liked the ones that deviated so much I couldn’t even figure out what they were based on. I also want to mention, the editor did a GREAT job.
Anyway, yeah, I just wanted to gush. These people are why I love to read so much. Even the ones I didn’t like, it’s always fun to pull apart a story and dissect it. ^_^