Sunday, December 30, 2012

Two and Twenty Dark Tales, edited by Georgia McBride and Michelle Zink

Perhaps Mother Goose was not telling us the full story in those catchy nursery rhymes.  Perhaps, like the original fairy tales, the origins of those nursery rhymes were much darker.  In this collection, you read about a dystopian Jack and Jill; an shipwrecked Winkin, Blinkin, and Nod; and the creepiest Wee Willie Winkie you ever did meet.  It may be a good idea to read these in the daylight, because these are certainly no bedtime stories.

Overall, I found this concept to be really awesome.  I love re-imaginings of old tales, regardless of the slant, but to take something as benign as nursery rhymes and reinvent them as something dark and brooding was an act of sheer brilliance by some of the authors in this anthology.  Like any collection of short stories, some appealed to me more than others.  I was certainly more predisposed to the very dark tales, like the one of Wee Willie Winkie, and the Little Miss Muffett story.  I also liked the stories that were more closely linked to the original nursery rhyme, which both of the stories I just mentioned were.  Some readers may like the stories that are less literal, for me they just did not work.  

For some reason, I found this book to be a very slow read, and felt like I was slogging through a lot of it.  For me, each story was either love or hate.  There were no stories on which I was just lukewarm.  I wish it had been a bit more consistent in terms of all the stories living up to the "dark tale" promise.  But the coolness of the concept, and the artistry of the stories I loved far outweigh the portions of the book I hated, so I still think this is a worthwhile read.  My only real complaint is that the advanced reader copy did not contain two of the stories; that is like leaving out chapters of a book and expecting a review to review the whole book.  To me, that just does not work well from a reviewer's perspective.  

The book will probably appeal to other fans of re-imagined fairy tales or classic stories.  Also, I think the book would be appropriate for, and appeal to, older teen readers, since many of them feature characters who are young adults.

I received a review copy courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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