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I Belong

Early Review: Rags & Bones Edited by Melissa Marr & Tim Pratt

Title: Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales

Author: Melissa MarrTim PrattNeil GaimanCarrie RyanGene WolfeKelley ArmstrongRick YanceyKami GarciaSaladin AhmedHolly BlackGarth NixMargaret Stohl 

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publication Date: October 22, 2013

Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages

ISBN-10: 03162946 (LB Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0316212946 (LB Teen)

Reviewed by: Michelle


The best writers of our generation retell the classics.

Literature is filled with sexy, deadly, and downright twisted tales. In this collection, award-winning and bestselling authors reimagine their favorite classic stories, ones that have inspired, awed, and enraged them; ones that have become ingrained in modern culture; and ones that have been too long overlooked. They take these stories and boil them down to their bones, and then reassemble them for a new generation of readers.

Today’s most acclaimed authors use their own unique styles to rebuild these twelve timeless stories:

Sir Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene – Saladin Ahmed

W. W. Jacobs’s “The Monkey’s Paw” – Kelley Armstrong

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Carmilla” – Holly Black

“Sleeping Beauty” – Neil Gaiman

The Brothers Grimm’s “Rumpelstiltskin” – Kami Garcia

Kate Chopin’s The Awakening – Melissa Marr

Rudyard Kipling’s “The Man Who Would Be King” – Garth Nix

Henry James’s “The Jolly Corner” – Tim Pratt

E. M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops” – Carrie Ryan

Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto – Margaret Stohl

William Seabrook’s “The Caged White Werewolf of the Saraban” – Gene Wolfe

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birth-Mark” – Rick Yancey

And six illustrations by Charles Vess

Quick & Dirty: An amazing collection of retellings with wonderful twists on some amazing classics.

Opening Sentence: It isn’t until he’s nearing the bottom of the ladder that Tavil realizes his sister hasn’t followed him.

The Review:

Rag and Bones, edited by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt, is an amazing collection of retellings. Twelve authors have given the reader a glimpse into who they are, by retelling a significant classic. Authors such as Carrie Ryan, Garth Nix, Neil Gaiman, Tim Pratt, Holly Black, Rick Yancey, Margaret Stohl, Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong, Kami Garcia, Saladin Ahmed, and Gene Wolfe are some of the famous YA authors to date. Together, they have created this newly reinvented collection of classics and I couldn’t wait to dig in.

One thing about retellings is just that. It’s a tale retold. With classics, such as fairy tales, it must be hard to reimagine or reinvent and tell it in a way that grasps new and old readers. For me, I enjoyed reliving these tales from my childhood in a new and different way. Whether it be through new age technology, a strong heroine instead of a charming prince, or even deathly vampires, I enjoyed it all.

There really is nothing like a twisted collection of fairy tales to get you ready for the fall season. Everyone needs to read this, because every story is wonderful. Let me tell you about a few of my favorites.

That the Machine May Progress Eternally – Carrie Ryan

The original, E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops, talks about how technology overrules our lives. It was written in 1909, predating much of what we know today. In Carrie Ryan’s version, she takes it a step further, fueling fears of those who do not wish to disconnect, and paints a picture of gruesome measures. Tavil is trapped in a world where humanity is reduced to life, automated. I love how Ryan drew out the symbolisms of faith and worship. And without any sort of activity beyond the machine, humans are trapped in a machine in a world “perfectly wrought.”

Losing Her Divinity – Garth Nix

Rudyard Kipling’s “The Man Who Would Be King” is about two travelers who become kings of a remote part of Afghanistan. Nix’s version is much more personal, in my opinion. He changes the narration/voice of the story, bringing it to a first person narrative. I found it to be more enjoyable, like an old friend telling me a tale of travel. There were a few parts that I glanced over, but overall I enjoyed it.

The Sleeper and the Spindle – Neil Gaiman

Everyone knows Sleeping Beauty; the lost princess who struck her finger upon a spindle and caused a whole kingdom to slumber. Neil Gaiman has beautifully retold this story unlike I’ve read before. I won’t spoil the twist, but let me just say that there is an amazing crossover that surprised me. It was easy to get lost in this new version, and every part of my being wished there was more to the story.

The Cold Corner – Tim Pratt

I haven’t read The Jolly Corner since college, so I couldn’t exactly tell you the similarities and differences. I will say that I enjoyed The Cold Corner. This had a very interesting Twilight Zone theme, and it was enjoyable. There are many contemporary, present day, pop culture-esque qualities incorporated and it made it that much more enjoyable.

Millcara – Holly Black

This was an amazing retelling. The original tale, Carmilla, was about a tale of two young girls and their budding friendship. In reality, that friendship was about a vampire’s advances of that young girl. In Black’s version, Millcara, she wrote it from the eyes of the vampire. To hear inside the mind of a vampire has become more engaging than I can express. Black knows just how to lure a reader in, and she has definitely done so with Millcara.

When First We Were Gods – Rick Yancey

Rick Yancey is a very talented author. He has managed to take a classic like Hawthorne’s The Birth Mark and translate it into the present century with When First We Were Gods. Immortality is something that has always been coveted, especially to the rich and wealthy. Yancey’s main character, Beneficent Page (fitting name, right?) covets immortality. It is attainable for the elite and can be purchased on credit. To me, it was like seeing the differences of the “upstairs” and “downstairs” for the technology age. So many topics weaved into this story, and Yancey knows how to make it all interesting.

Sirocco – Margaret Stohl

It’s interesting the point of view that Margaret Stohl has taken for The Castle of Otranto. I always remembered this story as one of darkness and goth. Stohl’s version, Sirocco, has brought a lighter tone to the story. Stohl’s version brings the limelight of Hollywood to the castle. Tolerance plays a huge theme, playing on the stereotypes of famous actors.

Awakened – Melissa Marr

I have never read The Awakening, but I enjoyed Marr’s story. The sea has always been a symbol of eternity; eternal death or eternal life. In this case, Marr showcases a woman trapped, only to enter the sea for freedom. Selchies are normal sexy and seductive, but I found Marr’s main character to be full of melancholy. It was an emotional read, but that is a testament to Marr’s writing.

The Soul Collector – Kami Garcia

Kami Garcia tells a tail of a young girl who ended up in the wrong side of the streets. Slowly, we see where the girl came from, who she is, and who she will become. A man who appeared to help her was a collector. He didn’t steal anything, but instead the helpless souls offered themselves to them. As for the young girl? She was gladly given by someone near and dear to her.

FTC Advisory: Little, Brown BFYR/Hachette Book Group provided me with a copy of Rags and Bones.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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One Response to “Early Review: Rags & Bones Edited by Melissa Marr & Tim Pratt

  1. YzabelNo Gravatar

    Well, one more to add to my TBR pile, I mean, shelf. It definitely looks like the kind of short stories collections I would enjoy.

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