Category: anthology

Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly …

Title: Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales

Editors: Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Anthology/Horror

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

               I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               I’ve recently been craving short stories again, and Monstrous Affections has been sitting at the top of my stack. I just love them, and as short stories are my forte at the moment, I figured, why not? I’ve found many new authors like that, and I was really looking forward to this one. There were some stories that were amazing, others just left me feeling lukewarm. That’s usually the case with anthologies, and I very much enjoy them. I loved the theme around these stories, one of my favorite things: monsters! This book of fifteen tales explores every kind of monster, including a few that I’d never before heard of. Some of these stories were unbearably sad and made my heart hurt, others were like a darkly weird, funny joke, and still more made me feel brave. Understood. Dare I say vindicated?

               I like to do anthology reviews a bit differently than other novels and forms of prose. I give the anthology an overall rating, but I like to highlight the stories that made a really lasting impression. So, without further ado, here we go:

               Moriabe’s Children by Paolo Bacigalupi: 5/5 stars. This story is one of my favorites in the entire volume. A young woman has been able to hear the kraken talking in the ocean since she was a child, and when she is at risk of dying, she finds an ally that she’s never before seen. Dark, brutal, weirdly funny, and satisfying. I’m really, really curious about this author now; I’d like to look into his work more in future.

               The Whole Demoning Thing by Patrick Ness: 4/5 stars. Patrick Ness is one of my favorite authors, so I was really excited for this story. It was confusing in spots, but overall, I enjoyed it a lot. I loved the tone of it and the twist ending. It was horror in a way that I’ve never seen written before, and it really made me happy.

               Wings in the Morning by Sarah Rees Brennan: 5/5 stars. This story was hilarious. I was laughing, snorting, and crying through the whole thing, and SRB is one of my very favorite authors. It was a hilarious, modern fantasy with a surprising love story at its center, and I’m looking forward to the book she wrote in that same universe, In Other Lands! This is probably one of my favorite pieces of her writing.

               Left Foot, Right by Nalo Hopkinson: 5/5 stars. Oh, this story! It made me laugh and weep. I had to reread it twice to really understand the depth of it, and it just left me in awe. A young woman goes into a shoe store, purchasing one for her left foot, never the right. This story really felt like a strange fever dream, in a dark and crazy kind of way. I loved the style and structure of it.

               Kitty Capulet and the Invention of Underwater Photography by Dylan Horrocks: 4/5 stars. It took me a little bit to get into the dialogue, and I had to reread it twice to really absorb it. But it came across as a dark kind of warning, and it made me think of climate change and how quickly time is running out if we don’t acknowledge it. Thoughtful, funny, and original, this story reimagines a Maori god brought to life, and I loved it.

               The New Boyfriend by Kelly Link: 5/5 stars. I loved this story! It perfectly embodied the feeling of when you’re young and dreaming of those first feelings of love. It was wry, dark, funny, and thoughtful, and I really enjoyed it.

               The Woods Hide in Plain Sight by Joshua Lewis: 4/5 stars. I loved the tone of this story, and it dealt with a classic monster: the vampire, seductive and romantic but truly terrifying in their rage and bloodlust. It was really dark, and scary, but I loved the way it ended. It was fantastic, and my favorite vampire story in the volume.

               And, last but definitely not least: Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters, Because They Are Terrifying by Alice Sola Kim: 4/5 Stars. I had to reread this entry several times in order to really understand it. This story paints a different kind of horror. Four girls steal a spellbook, and use the magic inside to attempt to resurrect one of the girl’s mothers. They connect, and what ensues is a frightening event. It was creepy, oddly tongue in cheek, and I loved how it gave me the shivers! The bottom line: This anthology revolving around monsters is fantastic, and most of the stories were really memorable! Next on deck: A Room Away from the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma!

How to Fracture a Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen Rev…

Title: How to Fracture a Fairy Tale

Author: Jane Yolen

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Anthology/Short Story Collection

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               Jane Yolen is one of my favorite authors; I’ve read several of her young adult books in the past, and when I saw a new short story collection sitting on the shelf at one of my local libraries, I snatched it up, eager to take it home and read it. When I realized I couldn’t renew it anymore, I pushed it to the top of my stack and began it immediately after I was finished with The Boneless Mercies. How to Fracture a Fairy Tale is a set of fairy tale retellings, told with lyrical prose and the wry humor that is Yolen’s signature. I was utterly delighted by this collection and devoured it in less than two days. This is easily one of my favorite collections of 2018, and I will be on the lookout for more of enchanting storyteller Jane Yolen’s work!

               This collection of tales contains many different stories, all different interpretations of fairy tales, some well-known, and others, not so much. I loved the variety of the stories; there was something for everyone in this volume. Because of how many stories were in here, for clarity’s sake, I cannot review every piece. So, I will give the book an overall rating and choose a few pieces that I really enjoyed.

               Godmother Death: 5 out of 5 Stars. I really enjoyed this one! I loved the tone; it read like an original fairy tale. Finding no one else to be godmother to his child, a poor villager asks Death in disguise. But as the child grows, Death follows in his wake, indifferent to the plights of humans. But things quickly change when the godson attempts to fool one of the oldest forces on earth. Wry, darkly funny, and beautifully written, it is one of my favorite stories in the volume!

               Sun/Flight: 5 out of 5 Stars. Another favorite of the collection. I loved this hopeful, passionate retelling of one of my favorite Greek mythology stories, Icarus! Given a job in a noble’s house, he falls in love with his proprietor’s daughter, after being saved from drowning in the ocean, he is heartbroken when she moves on to a better lover. Sad, lyrical, and beautifully told, I loved this spin on a tale I thought I knew!

               Allereirauh: 5 out of 5 Stars. I loved the way that this story went back to the fairy tale Cinderella’s dark, bloody roots. Bound by a promise to his dead wife to marry someone as beautiful as she, a king goes mad and pursues his own daughter to wed. Not many people know this version of the story, and the disturbing way that Yolen ended it both had my jaw on the floor and is still lingering in my mind, two days after I finished it. Dark, vicious, with hidden teeth, I will never forget this retelling!

               Granny Rumple: 5 out of 5 Stars. I loved this spin on Rumplestiltskin, infused with Yolen’s own Jewish culture and faith. Rumplestiltskin is one of my favorite fairy tales, and I loved the way that Yolen turned it on its head so that Granny Rumple, the fairy’s widow, came out on top. A hilarious, darkly funny romp that I really enjoyed.

               Mama Gone: 4 out of 5 Stars. What’s a story full of retellings without vampire horror somewhere in the mix? I really liked this story; it was sad, fast-paced, and bittersweet. A young woman loses her mother, and because her father cannot bear to cut off her head and feet, she comes back as a vampire and soon begins terrorizing the small town, tucked up against the mountains. The narrator must try to figure out how to stop her mother’s reign of terror, even at the risk of her own life. Dark, creepy, and bittersweet, I loved Mama Gone!

               Jane Yolen is one of America’s greatest storytellers, and for good reason. She is sharp, honest, funny, witty, and lyrical, and frankly, I’ve enjoyed every bit of her work that I’ve come across. This book was a fantastic literary palate cleanser in between novels, and I loved every moment of it! The bottom line: Fanciful, sharp, dark and honest, I loved How to Fracture a Fairy Tale! Next on deck: Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman!

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