I am excited to be reviewing my first ever short story collection on this blog! This is a collection of retold classic stories with a twist, edited by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt, and featuring many a famous author, including: Neil Gaiman, Garth Nix and Kami Garcia.
My favourite story was Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Sleeper and The Spindle’, which was fantastic. Here are the mini-reviews I did for each story:
1. That the Machine May Progress Eternally (6/10)
Carrie Ryan – inspired by E.M. Forster’s ‘The Machine Stops’
Although this was very, very thought-provoking, it was quite disturbing, and not my cup of tea. The main character was weak, despite the fact that what happened to him was not totally his fault.
2. Losing Her Divinity (8/10)
Garth Nix – inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Man Who Would Be King’
This was another quite haunting one, although this time, it was less because of the events of the story, and more as a result of the writing style, which was an endless stream of one side of a conversation. I was certainly not expecting the story to go the way it did!
3. The Sleeper and The Spindle (9.5/10)
Neil Gaiman – inspired by ‘Sleeping Beauty’
I really enjoyed this retelling of Sleeping Beauty, because it was so different from any other retelling. This time, it was a woman who was the rescuer – not any woman, but Snow White (who was living after her story took place) – and the woman she wakened was not actually the princess, but the evil queen who put the princess in the sleep. The only thing wrong with the story was that the characters seemed quite impersonal; we didn’t even know their names.
4. The Cold Corner (8.5/10)
Tim Pratt – inspired by Henry James’ ‘The Jolly Corner’
This was not going in the direction that I thought, it really surprised me! The main character was a likeable character despite the fact that he had been making some bad decisions. I really liked how Tim Pratt didn’t try to explain the strange things that where happening; he left that as a mystery you could either ponder or accept.
An enjoyable read!
5. Millcara (7/10)
Holly Black – inspired by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s ‘Carmilla’
I thought the story and characters, but I didn’t understand why Millcara and her mother play this game – befriending a family and everything. Is it for money? Victims?
Honestly, I didn’t really like the main character either.
6. When First We Were Gods (7/10)
Rick Yancey – inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ‘The Birth-Mark’
I thought Georgiana was absolutely right: B did fear death, and what it took away. However, I think it went deeper than that. He was afraid of life as well, and was afraid that it was meaningless.
I wasn’t particularly drawn to any of the characters, but but it did raise some interesting questions as to the future of technology and what it could potentially bring (as did the first story in this collection), and I think it taught a powerful story about the importance of death, especially to enjoy life.
7. Sirocco (6/10)
Margaret Stohl – inspired by Horace Walpole’s ‘The Castle of Otranto’
This story was actually very difficult to get into, and although I didn’t much care for the girl, Isabella, the main male character was easy to like.
I liked the ending, how Dante was the lord of the manor, and the Elephant woman was his partner, however I don’t really understand what exactly happened to the two children!
8. Awakened (7.5/10)
Melissa Marr – inspired by Kate Chopin’s ‘The Awakening’
I really enjoyed this an an entertaining story. I felt very sorry for the main character, Eden, and also, in parts, Leo as well.
I was going to rate this piece a lot higher, but the ending really disappointed me. I was expecting Eden to at least understand why Leo was the way he was, and to realise that he did really need her love.
She could have at least stayed and heard what he had to say, or helped him back to the shore, before going.
9. New Chicago (7.5/10)
Kelley Armstrong – inspired by W.W Jacobs’ ‘The Monkey’s Paw’
This was very suspenseful! I thought it was very well done, but although I liked the plot and what actually happened, the premise of the three cursed wishes has been done many times, and this just didn’t stand out for me.
10. The Soul Collector (8.5/10)
Kami Garcia – inspired by the Brother’s Grimm ‘Rumpelstiltskin’
This story again was good, nothing super special though. The characters were interesting, and I really liked the intrigue behind the Soul Collector.
11. Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy (8/10)
Saladin Ahmed – inspired by Sir Edmund Spenser’s ‘The Faerie Queen’
This was very thought-provoking, and I liked the honesty and the braveness of the main character, however, I didn’t pick up on some of the meanings behind the names.
12. Uncaged (6/10)
Gene Wolfe – inspired by William B Seabrook’s ‘The Caged White Werewolf of the Saraban’
This story was so bizarre! There were two halves: while the man is searching for the caged woman (and finds her) and when the two of them are on a ship to America. However, I didn’t understand the transition between the two, or why they had gotten married!
Phew! Lots of little reviews there. Overall, I wasn’t completely impressed by the collection; maybe my expectations were a little too high, but I was expecting more from some of the best YA authors around at the moment. But there were a couple of little gems in there.
Was I a little harsh for some of these? Let me know your thoughts below!