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I Belong

Early Review: Two and Twenty Dark Tales Anthology

Title: Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes

Authors: Nina Berry, Sarwat Chadda, Shannon Delany, Max Scialdone, Karen Mahoney, Lisa Manchev, Georgia McBride, C. Lee McKenzie, Gretchen McNeil, Francisco X. Stork, K. M. Walton, Suzanne Young, Michelle Zink, Leigh Fallon, Angie Frazier, Jessie Harrell, Nancy Holder, Heidi R. Kling, Suzanne Lasear, and Pam van Hylckama Vlieg

Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal

Series: N/A

Publication Date: October 16, 2012

Format: Paperback, 340 Pages

ISBN-10: 0985029412 (Month9Books)

ISBN-13: 978-0985029418 (Month9Books)

Reviewed by: Kayla


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.

Quick & Dirty: 22 stories (from fantasy to modern to mythology) inspired by Mother Goose Rhymes that aren’t the simple poems we think we know.

Opening Sentence: (First sentence of first story) When the girl sneaked in at midnight, he used his penlight to make a note.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Twenty-two authors. Twenty-two stories. Twenty-two rhymes. This is an anthology of twenty-two Mother Goose Rhymes that will have you shuddering in your reading nook, crying in public and looking over your shoulder during the day. These are not the silly rhymes that you used to sing as a child or watch on Barney. These are creepy tales with no happy endings (or bittersweet at the most). From fantasy to paranormal, twenty-two authors dive into the dark side of Mother Goose rhymes.

This was the first anthology I’ve ever read. Outside of school, anyway. Some of the stories were really good. Others not so much. Some had you quivering in your seat, flipping the pages with hesitant fingers. Others had you confused and snorting at the unbelieveability of the world the author drew. Some were really short. Others really long. Each story has its own unique spin on a Mother Goose rhyme, but not all had the suspense that comes with dark thrillers. Since there were 22 short stories, I’m going to highlight three stories (cause reviewing all 22 stories would take all day to read).

“As Blue as the Sky and Just as Old” is the first story in this anthology. It was based off the Mother Goose rhyme about Taffy. This is a great opener to the book with strong characters and suspense like no other. It has a blend of mythology and two points of views (a third party and the heroine). Since the point of this story is to keep you guessing what’s going on, I won’t spoil what happens, but the writing and plotting of this story is genius. Want to know how to write a story where you’re left in the dark until the “ah-ha!” moment at the end? Read this story by Nina Berry.

“One For Sorrow” is an odd story. It was based off the poem I’ve never heard before (called “One For Sorrow”). This is about a girl who finds a crow at her window and then it turns out the crow is cursed. I’m not quite sure how the story pertains to the poem; it only connects to the poem at the very end. I loved how Karen Mahoney connected the story to Edgar Allen Poe’s “Nevermore.” Poe’s poem connected to the story more than the Mother Goose rhyme, but the allusions to it were well written. But the story itself was very quick–it didn’t take the time to build the story in the middle, but instead jumped from the beginning to the end. It made the story less likable and relatable (nobody falls in love in one day. I wish authors would understand that–even Shakespeare who had Romeo and Juliet fall in love and die in three days).

“A Ribbon of Blue” was the most light-hearted story in the whole anthology. But it still had its own conflicts and obstacles. It is about a girl who has cerebral palsy, who had her fortune told and said “freedom, light and love” were coming to her. The writing was great with symbolism and overall bittersweetness. It was a satisfying end to the anthology.

Unfortunately there were two stories at the end and a poem in the middle written by the editor Georgia McBride that was not included in the ARC. But all of the short stories were worth the read. Some I thought were way too short (like 5 pages total). Some I thought were really long and drawn out (like 25 pages). Overall this was an interesting twist on Mother Goose Rhymes.

Notable Scene:

She nodded and took his hand, understanding now that it had always been about this moment. She sent one last look at her other-self, her body still jerking, the people around her frantic, barking instructions to each other. Her skirt billowed on the ground around her, the blue ribbon trailing from her hair.

Sam started walking, leading her toward something bright and beautiful up ahead–not too far, just a little bit farther. There was a lightening within her, an easing of a burden she hadn’t known she carried. As the light enveloped her, the rest of the world faded into the background, into nothing–a pinprick compared to the fullness that waited in the light.

She didn’t hesitate as she took the final step, Sam’s hand in hers, his eyes soft and warm on her face.

The old woman had been right. There was freedom, light… and so very much love.

FTC Advisory: Month9Books provided me with a copy of Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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