TITLE: Two & Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings Of Mother Goose
AUTHOR: Nina Berry, Sarwat Chadda, Georgia McBride, Suzanne Lazear, Karen Mahoney, Lisa Mantchev, C Lee McKenzie, K M Walton, Suzanne Young, Michelle Zink, Sayantani DasGupta, Shannon Delany, Max Scialdone, Leigh Fallon, Heide R Kling, Angie Frazier, Jessie Harrell, Nancy Holder, Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, Gretchen McNeil, & Leah Cypess
PUBLICATION DATE: October 16, 2012
PUBLISHER: Month9Books, LLC
PAGES: 342 pages
RATING: 4 stars
This anthology of retellings of mother goose nursery rhymes are dark and enticing. The authors take these tales that are supposed to comfort you and turn them into scary tales that send shivers down your spine. Just a fair warning to all wanting to read this anthology, very few of these shorts have happy endings. I’m gonna do a tiny review on each story because I feel like that’s the only way to do it. Since my copy is the eARC, it doesn’t contain 3 of the stories that will be in the finished edition (Interlude: Humpty Dumpty by Georgia McBride, Sea Of Dew (extended version) by C Lee McKenzie, & The Lion & The Unicorn: Part The Second by Nancy Holder), but all the other tales will get a small segment. I’ll also give each tale a 1-5 rating.
As Blue As The Sky And Just As Old by Nina Berry: 3/5 I have never heard that nursery rhyme before, but this chilling tale of a group of people who are reincarnated repeatedly only to fail to get this right was more twisted than I was fully expecting. Arawn is an intriguing heroine and reacts with the proper amount of horror when everything is finally revealed.
Sing A Song Of Six-Pence by Sarwat Chadda: 4/5 Another rhyme I’ve never read. Apparently I’m not up to speed on my nursery rhymes anymore. Either way, this tells the story of a woman who is making a deal with a devil in order to try and make it back to her son. It’s filled with gloom and unease since I had no idea where it was going to end up.
Clockwork by Leah Cypress: 4/5 Finally a Mother Goose tale I know! But I never could have seen this twist when I recited this small rhyme as a child. Imagine, if you will, that the mouse in Hickory Dickory Dock is actually a bewitched girl who was betrayed by those around her and then transformed. It was definitely an entertainingly dark tale.
Blue by Sayantani DasGupta: 2/5 This tale confused me a bit. I really didn’t understand what the “Maiden” was doing or who she was supposed to be. I just didn’t care for it.
Pieces Of Eight by Shannon Delany with Max Scialdone: 4/5 I really liked this one. The dynamic between Marnum and Cyrelle was wonderful and enchanting. You couldn’t help rooting for Marnum on his crazy quest to shake the dreamtree.
Wee Willie Winkie by Leigh Fallon: 5/5 This short was absolutely perfect. It was intriguing, entertaining, and spine chillingly creepy. After reading this, I’m very excited to read other things by Leigh Fallon.
Boys & Girls Come Out To Play: by Angie Frazier 3/5 While this story was interesting, I didn’t like that the twin’s fiancée was interested in her. I’m sorry but the I love you even though I’m engaged to your sister bit is very overplayed and irritating.
I Come Bearing Souls by Jessie Harrell: 4/5 This one seemed a bit darker than the others. This girl takes souls to the underworld with her siblings and depending on whether or not they are worthy of the afterlife, they either get to move on or get devoured by Amemit. Oh, and I loved that there was a character named Kyle Reese. It made me half expect to see John Connor appear and start taking out robots. 🙂 It makes me even more excited to read Destined by Jessie Harrell, if it is going to be this good.
The Lion And The Unicorn: Part The First by Nancy Holder: 4/5 While this one was good, since I can’t read the second part, I’m a little lost. Part II isn’t in the eARC version, so it was a big cliffhanger. Otherwise, the writing is good and the story is definitely interesting. I’m gonna have to buy a finished copy of this book to read the rest! This is yet another author that I’m going to start looking for books by.
Life In A Shoe by Heidi R Kling: 5/5 Wow. This tale just completely blew me away. In this world, it is now apparently illegal for you to use any form of contraceptives and so woman just keep popping out baby after baby when they already can’t afford to feed the ones they have. The mother in this one is a soldier’s wife who has 12 kids and is pregnant with another and is beyond caring about the children. It is amazing. I had never heard of Heidi R Kling before, but I’m definitely going to be on the lookout for her books now!
Candlelight by Suzanne Lazear: 4/5 This short plays on the universal theme of kids feeling persecuted by their parents. Well, dear little ones, if you want to get away from them and live happily ever after on your own, come right on down to Babylon and we’ll take care of ya! Warning: time passes differently down here so even if you only spend a few months here, up top, the world will move on without you. It was pretty entertaining.
One For Sorrow by Karen Mahoney: 5/5 Finally, a happy ending! I realize these are all dark tales, but that doesn’t mean they can’t end darkly happy. Not only happy ending, but a love story as well. ::does happy dance:: I think this is one of my favorite stories in this anthology. It’s got loss, sorrow, love, happiness, magic, mystery, and a happy ending. What more could I want? I will definitely be looking into getting more books by this author.
Those Who Whisper by Lisa Mantchev: 5/5 This story is the reason I wanted to read this book. I loved Lisa’s Theater Illuminata series and plan on reading anything else she writes so when I saw she had a story in this anthology, I just had to get my hands on it. And it was worth it. This small tale about a girl who can communicate with birds and is kicked out of her town once her mother dies is elegant and simple and absolutely perfect. That’s all I can really say.
Little Miss Muffet by Georgia McBride: 3/5 This story is more than a little weird. Human spider girl with issues fights with family. It was…interesting.
Sea of Dew by C Lee McKenzie: 3/5 This short reminded me a great deal of Sharks And Boys by Kristen Tracy. It’s dark and twisted and doesn’t end happily at all. It’s about three boys and a girl who are stranded at sea in a lifeboat.
Tick Tock by Gretchen McNeil: 4/5 This one is creepy as hell, probably the scariest tale in the book. After reading this, I can honestly say, I’m glad I was never a babysitter in high school. Beware the small children with no parents!
A Pocket Full of Posy by Pamela van Hylckama Vlieg: 4/5 Imagine waking up on a bench covered in blood with no memory of how you got there or whose blood it is. Add to that the mystery of finding your girlfriend murdered and wondering if you were somehow involved in her death. That’s what the young man in this story is faced with. And everyone thinks he did it. You’ll have to read it to find out if he did or not.
The Well by K M Walton: 2/5 This is a very twisted version of Jack and Jill. I didn’t really like it. It was written well, it just isn’t for me.
The Wish by Suzanne Young: 2/5 This is so beautifully written that I hate to give it such a low rating, but I was so depressed by the ending, I couldn’t help it. Lauren is devastated when her boyfriend of two years breaks up with her and then promptly starts dating a cheerleader. It puts her in a downwards spiral so bad that he actually makes a wish on a star to die. Then a handsome stranger shows up and turns on the charm and it became so sweet and romantic and then…well let’s just say it doesn’t end well, okay?
A Ribbon Of Blue by Michelle Zink 4/5 Short and sweet, this one stole my heart. Poor Ruby was born with Cerebral Palsy and though her condition isn’t as several as some, it still makes her life very difficult. The one time a year when she is truly happy is when the carnival comes to town. She waits with baited breath for the boy she was foretold would one day meet her there. And when he finally arrives, she is anything but disappointed.
****Thank you to Month9Books for providing me with an eARC via netgalley in exchange for an honest review****