Review: Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales Edited by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt

rags & bones

Published: October 22, 2013

Number of pages: 350

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Format: hardcover

Genre: dystopian, mystery, romance, seduction, murder, etc.

Rating: YA

Summary:

This is no ordinary collection of short stories. These are stories based on classic and timeless tales reimagined by best-selling authors who take their favorite story and strip it down to the bone, and reinterpret them for young audiences of today. Best-selling authors include Neil Gaiman with his dark twist on Sleeping Beauty, Kelly Armstrong and her dystopian version of The Monkey’s Paw, Tim Pratt who adds a Southern lit to The Jolly Corner, Melissa Marr, and her feminist approach on The Awakening. Together these authors have created an anthology with their different approach to original fairy tales, folk tales, gothic tales, and long forgotten tales that our favorite authors return to.

My Thoughts:

Loved it! Loved it! Loved it! This is the best collection of new short stories I’ve had the pleasure to read. I was compelled to buy the book as I noticed two of my favorite authors: Neil Gaiman and Kelley Armstrong were included. The other authors, I’m afraid to admit, I’ve never heard of before. But as this is a YA book, I take it they have written books in that category (I don’t often read YA books).

The first story, Carrie Ryan’s That the Machine may Progress Eternally took me by surprise as Ryan takes us to the future and explores the theme of our fear with new technology. At first the story started off creepy when the boy discovers he’s trap inside the machine. But as he learns to live inside it he comes to rely on it until he channels his faith towards the thing. In the end, Ryan leaves us questioning about whether we’ve become too dependent on technology.

Another favorite is Neil Gaiman’s retelling of Sleeping Beauty, with The Sleeper and the Spindle. Instead of the prince saving the princess routine, Gaiman rewrote the classic tale with a cast of strong female characters. Forget the Disney rendition, this is the most entertaining and twisted contemporary version of Charles Perrault, Sleeping Beauty in the Wood. Gaiman throws out the ‘prince saving the princess’ routine and replaces the hero with a brave and bold heroine who uses her wits as a weapon to defeat the enchantress. I love how Gaiman rewrote this story with a dark and sexy twist, while carefully ending it with a lesson on choosing our own choices.

Kelley Armstrong retells the classic tale of The Monkey’s Paw in a dystopian world where one of the brothers discover the grotesque paw, and decides to change their way of life in New Chicago. Armstrong stays true to the dark and horror theme of the original classic as she describes the tragic incident of one of the brothers, leaving the youngest to decide on his fate. The mysterious paw offers 3 wishes to anyone who holds it, letting our deepest and darkest desires to overcloud our judgment, and if we’re not careful can lead to cruelty and dread. Unfortunately the boy experiences this firsthand but is too late, with the ending raising questions as to whether he made the right or wrong choice or if there was really a choice for him at all.

There were other stories that were not for me such as Melissa Marr’s Awakened as I thought the writing was bland and the ending predictable as I was halfway through the story, and Garth Nix’s Losing Her Divinity, as I felt lost in some parts of the narrator’s monologue and the ending was abrupt. Regardless, I took pleasure in reading this anthology of authors reinterpreting their favorite classics for our generation of young readers.

From Nathanial Hawthorne’s The Birthmark to W.W Jacobs The Monkey’s Paw, and fairy tales including the Brothers Grimm’s Rumpelstiltskin, a selection of authors rewrite these tales with a sexy, dystopian, and dark twist. A recommended read for all younger and older adults as Rags & Bones contains a story for every reader to enjoy. The best part is that you don’t have to know the original stories to appreciate these tales, just loose yourself and you won’t be disappointed.

My verdict: 4 hoots out of 5.

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