Monday 21 October 2013

Awesome Short Stories! Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales

This week has been a bit manic. It was Benjamin's first birthday party at the weekend (photos to follow as soon as I get them from my friend), and we had tickets to see NEIL GAIMAN on Tuesday in London but I had to work in Kent on Monday, so we were up to London Thursday night, party on Sunday, back to Kent Sunday night, back to London Monday night, up to London Tuesday afternoon, back to Kent Wednesday morning. It was tiring. However when we got in on Sunday night (without Benji who stayed with his grandparents for the night, very quiet house, very very weird) I found a parcel waiting for me from the lovely lovely people at Headline, who I had contacted a while ago about my undying love for all things Gaiman, and this fell out:

I will admit I squealed a bit and started reading it immediately, which worked out really well because it meant I had the tail end of it to read in the queue for the Fortunately, The Milk event on Tuesday. So yes, this is a collection of new versions of classic tales type book, but unlike the books of this sort I usually read, this isn't just twists on fairy tales.

There are some really great authors in this collection, and some really interesting interpretations, and it made me want to get hold of the things that I hadn't read and read them immediately. Although it was the first thing that caught my eye, and very good, Neil Gaiman's version of Sleeping Beauty, entitled The Sleeper and the Spindle wasn't my favourite tale I don't think. It did have a bit of an Ocean At the End of the Lane feel to it, though, which can never be a bad thing. 

Actually I think my favourite stories in the collection were probably Millcara by Holly Black, whose short stories I still have a half read volume of which I will now be making haste to finish, and which is a vampire kind of story inspired by Joseph Sheridan le Fanu's story Carmilla, which I had never heard of before, and Awakened by Melissa Marr which is a really cool reinterpretation of The Awakening by Kate Chopin with selchies. There were others that I loved as well; Losing Her Divinity by Garth Nix whose Keys to the Kingdom series I used to have a few of but have never read, and which was inspired by Kipling's The Man Who Would be King which I struggled through and hated a while back was really great and very interestingly told, New Chicago by Kelley Armstrong, and The Soul Collector by Kami Garcia, a reinterpretation of Rumplestiltskin in a modern setting to name just a few. As well as the gorgeous complexity of the stories, each one is followed by a short note from its' author explaining why they chose their particular tale for inspiration and giving a bit of background to its' creation, so it's really interesting from the point of view of thinking about the creative process as well as for enjoying some great writing (which this isn't, I'm sorry, I'm tired and hungry and just needed to write about this book because it is so good). 

I really loved how every couple of tales or so there was an illustration by Charles Vess, based on a story with a facing page of explanation about why that particular story inspired him. It made the book even more interesting to read and means it will stick in my head for the beautiful images as well as the incredibly high standard of writing, and I'll be recommending it to people for ages. 

Rags & Bones is going straight on my five star list and my keeper shelf (after it's circulated all my family and friends!) and if you have chance to read it, you should. 


  1. Oh my goodness, I love a good reworking and this sounds amazing. It's going straight to the top of my wish list!

  2. As soon as I saw the title "Millcara" I started mentally muddling up the letters to see if it was an anagram of "Carmilla" (which is an excellent vampire story I'd read in uni for gothic fiction.) And YAY to a new Gaiman fairy tale retelling. Sounds like a great story.

    1. By which I meant a great COLLECTION of stories - silly me pressing "Publish" without proofreading.