Pages: 340 (Paperback)
Release Date: October 16, 2012
I received an ARC from NetGalley.
In this anthology, 20 authors explore the dark and hidden meanings behind some of the most beloved Mother Goose nursery rhymes through short story retellings. The dark twists on classic tales range from exploring whether Jack truly fell or if Jill pushed him instead to why Humpty Dumpty, fragile and alone, sat atop so high of a wall. The authors include Nina Berry, Sarwat Chadda, Leigh Fallon, Gretchen McNeil, and Suzanne Young.
I don't usually read anthologies, but I've seen this one around quite a bit and thought it sounded interesting. I love fairytale retellings, so dark retellings of Mother Goose rhymes definitely piqued my interest, even though I don't know many of the originals (they're included though!). I wasn't familiar with any of these authors, although I did recognize several names. I do think I'll check out some of their other works now that I've gotten a little taste.
Overall, this collection of stories was disappointing. There's only a few that I really enjoyed and stand out from the rest. Most them are just strange, and the connection to original rhyme is either non-existent or blantantly stated.
★★☆☆☆ As Blue as the Sky and Just as Old by Nina Berry
This one was strange. The connection to the rhyme isn't clear until near the end, where it's just explicitly explained to us. I was interested at the start, but once rape showed up, I wasn't into it anymore. I also had a hard time believing that a girl would get into a car with a strange guy that she literally just met. At the end, I still wasn't clear about what had happened.
★★★☆☆ Sing a Song of Six-Pence by Sarwat Chadda
I loved the idea of a tavern full of ghouls and demons! I also thought this was a clever interpretation of the rhyme. It's definitely dark, and I liked it. I do wish it had been a little longer, since I wanted to see a bit more of what lied beyond "the wall."
★★★★☆ Clockwork by Leah Cypess
This one was really good! Even if the poem hadn't been included, it was clear that this one was Hickory, Dickory, Dock. I loved the magical aspect and the royal betrayal. The ending is kind of depressing, but I think the mouse was very brave.
★★☆☆☆ Blue by Sayantani DasGupta
So, I liked the idea of the Children of Ink, but I found the story really boring. It's the shortest of the bunch, and definitely felt less developed than the others.
★★☆☆☆ Pieces of Eight by Shannon Delany with Max Scialdone
This time the rhyme is a prophecy in the story, which was an idea that I really liked. This story is quite action packed, but I just didn't like it. I was honestly expecting something pirate-like, but it was about music instead, which just isn't my thing.
★★★★☆ Wee Willie Winkie by Leigh Fallon
Now this is what I was expecting when I started reading! This one is clearly a well thought out reinterpretation of the rhyme. At the beginning I was a little worried that this was going to be another disappointment, but it ended up being one of the best! The ending is very chilling!
★★★☆☆ Boys and Girls Come Out to Play by Angie Frazier
I really liked this interpretation, too. The witches calling the children out to the forest to "test" them was interesting, and I think it would make a great full length novel. The one thing I didn't like was the semi-love triangle. It just didn't fit or make sense, since it was so undeveloped.
★★☆☆☆ I Come Bearing Souls by Jessie Harrell
This is another weird one. Too weird for my liking. This one is about gods/goddesses and soul collecting. I'm not a fan of the "I'm not sure how I escaped but.." which is essentially what happened with the main conflict. There is also literally a cow jumping over the moon, which was the only clear connection to the rhyme.
★☆☆☆☆ The Lion and the Unicorn: Part the First by Nancy Holder
I know this one is on two parts (the second isn't included in the ARC), but it oddly read like a chapter from a historical novel. I felt like we were just thrust into the story without any real context, so I had no clue what was going on.
★★★☆☆ Life in the Shoe by Heidi R. Kling
This was most the most obvious and literal story of the bunch. A woman becomes pregnant every time her military husband is on leave, but can't afford to take care of them. It was good, but nothing special.
☆☆☆☆☆ Humpty Dumpty by Georgia McBride
Unfortunately, not included in the ARC.
★★☆☆☆ Candlelight by Suzanne Lazear
Interesting premise but super predictable. I was put off at the beginning because of Juliet's over-the-top teenage whining, and a commercial for a center where they understand unfair parents? Yeah, right! Sure the idea of Babylon seems inviting, but this was clearly a tale of "be careful what you wish for."
★★☆☆☆ One for Sorrow by Karen Mahoney
This is another one that I think I'd like as a full length novel. As a short story it didn't really work for me, since it's a super extreme case of insta-love. The first part is very Twilight-esque: boy comes through girls window, watches her sleep, "what are you" moment at school, kissing in a field. The only difference is the boy is a crow, not a vampire. The ending was interesting, but rushed.
★★★☆☆ Those Who Whisper by Lisa Mantchev
Another one that actually feels complete! This one has a bit of a murder mystery twist, which I enjoyed. There's also fantasy elements with the talking birds. I liked it.
★★★★☆ Little Miss Muffet by Georgia McBride
What the heck?! That was totally bizarre, but I loved it! This one gets bonus points for being utterly unique. Yes, it involves spiders which is an obvious choice, but the specifics are what makes this one stand out!
★★★★☆ Sea of Dew by C. Lee McKenzie
This one is a survival story, and I really liked it. I think this is the only one without some magic or fantasy element, but that's okay. It's about four people lost at sea and trying to survive. However, the dark theme of the book suggests that they don't make it.
★★★★★ Tick Tock by Gretchen McNeil
Children are freaking terrifying!!!
★★☆☆☆ A Pocket Full of Posey by Pam van Hylckama Vlieg
This one started off really good! Did Jake kill his girlfriend? Even he doesn't know. I was expecting a Jekyll/Hyde type twist and that is not what happened at all. The ending was pretty unsatisfying.
★★★★☆ The Well by K.M. Walton
This one is set in a kind of dystopian, post apocalyptic world, where Jack and Jill are two of the only survivors. Unfortunately for them, they hate each other. The hostility between these two is super thick, so what happens when they travel up the hill to get some water?
★☆☆☆☆ The Wish by Suzanne Young
Another major disappointment and a "careful what you wish for." This one was pretty much ruined by the whole "this is love at first sight, omg we must be together forever" scene that was completely unnecessary. This story was also beyond predictable.
★★★☆☆ A Ribbon of Blue by Michelle Zink
This is a sweet, light story about a girl with CP who finally meets a nice boy. Very fluffy, but cute.
☆☆☆☆☆ The Lion and the Unicorn: Part the Second by Nancy Holder
Unfortunately, not included in the ARC.
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