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Fractured Fairytales (And Dystopian Tales And Science Fiction Tales …)

Rags & Bones, a new short story collection edited by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt, featuring stories from the likes of Holly Black, Rick Yancey and Neil Gaiman, puts new spins on classic tales. Plus: You can win a copy!

Fractured Fairytales (And Dystopian Tales And Science Fiction Tales …)

BOOK REPORT for Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales edited by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt

Cover Story: Handmade With A Flourish
The Best: “The Sleeper and the Spindle” by Neil Gaiman, “When We First Were Gods” by Rick Yancey
The Worst: “Uncaged” by Gene Wolfe, “That the Machine May Progress Eternally” by Carrie Ryan
The Weird: “The Soul Collector” by Kami Garcia, “Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy” by Saladin Ahmed
Bonus Factors: Something For Everyone, Neil Gaiman
Anti-bonus Factor: Unfamiliar Stories
Break Glass In Case Of: No Real Time To Read, A Love Of Remakes

Cover Story: Handmade With A Flourish

There’s something kind of piratey about this cover, even though—spoiler alert—there are no stories within dealing with pirates. It also reminds me of something I’d find on Pinterest; hand-drawn/doodled quotes on chalkboard backgrounds are still all the rage. That’s not an unfavorable observation, however, as I have at least one bit of hand-lettered chalkboard art in my home.

(I really like this finished cover more than the cover of the ARC I read.)

The Deal:

Twelve well-known and well-loved authors take turns stripping their favorite classic stories down to their bare bones and crafting new stories from what remains. From futuristic dystopian societies in which the richest and most powerful have essentially become immortal to the hometown where you can find a hundred different versions of yourself—some stories are mere glimmers of their originals, and others feature familiar plots and characters, but all are unique.

The Best: “The Sleeper and the Spindle” by Neil Gaiman

When a sleeping sickness begins to overtake a neighboring country, a queen and her dwarven companions travel through towns and cities filled with semi-threatening sleepwalkers to seek out the source of the magical illness.

The Best: “When We First Were Gods” by Rick Yancey

For the First and Foremost Families of the Republic of North America, death is no longer something to worry about. When an accident happens, they can merely upload their consciousness into a new (and perfect, natch) body and continue living. They don’t even have to wait for an accident—if they tire of the looks of a certain body, they can transfer into a new one. When one of the elite falls in love with a finitissium (a normal human being with a normal lifespan), they come to realize that living forever might not exactly be all it’s cracked up to be.

The Worst: “Uncaged” by Gene Wolfe

This story, about a man who hears rumors of a man-killing leopard, finds a woman locked in a cage, then marries said woman even though she might be the man-killing leopard when she wants to be, is confusing and lacks any real plot.

The Worst: “That the Machine May Progress Eternally” by Carrie Ryan

A young man who’s lived his whole life on the surface of the Earth, eking out a meager existence under an open sky, descends down an access tunnel into the innards of The Machine. There, he finds his every desire fulfilled, his every need met. He quickly loses all sense of self. This isn’t so much a bad story as it is a depressing statement on mankind’s inherently impressionable nature.

The Weird: “The Soul Collector” by Kami Garcia

A good cop faced with a case that might force her to become involved in unsavory tasks meets a man who is willing to do her dirty work in exchange for a kiss, a memory … and a soul.

The Weird: “Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy” by Saladin Ahmed

Set in a world filled with horrors and Dali-like surroundings, a man who cannot remember his life “before” goes on a quest to find his two brothers. When he receives visions of them in battles they cannot win, he changes his goal and instead seeks their captor, the ruler of the strange land, in the hopes of regaining the memories that are just outside his grasp.

Bonus Factor: Something For Everyone

The stories in Rags & Bones range from science fiction to fantasy to dystopian to paranormal to horror to comedy and everywhere in between. The characters within the stories are queer, straight, male, female, young and old. The plots take place in the past, present, future and alternate universes or realities. Don’t like the genre of the story you’re reading? Skip to the next one. With such a wide variety of genres covered in the book, I’m pretty certain that there’s at least one that would interest even the pickiest of readers.

Bonus Factor: Neil Gaiman

He’s a storyteller, an inspirational speaker and a scriptwriter. He blogs, he tweets, he occasionally takes down the Internet. He’s a modern-day Renaissance man. I can pretty much guarantee that anything that has Neil’s name on it will be a draw for me, and he very rarely lets me down.

Anti-bonus Factor: Unfamiliar Stories

This isn’t so much a complaint about Rags & Bones stories themselves as it is a statement on my lack of knowledge of some of the retold tales within. Many of the stories contained familiar situations or characters that helped me connect with them; others were based on stories I’ve never read, and I therefore struggled to find the meaning behind the words.

Break Glass In Case Of: No Real Time To Read, A Love Of Remakes

Each story in this collection is distinctly different, and each one based on a different style of story, so Rags & Bones is a wonderful collection to peruse if you don’t have a ton of time to devote to a book, or you particularly enjoy retellings or remakes of classic ideas.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy from Little, Brown Books. I received neither chocolate-covered marshmallow pumpkins nor money for this review. Rags & Bones will be available Oct. 22.

Want to win your own copy of Rags & Bones? Leave us a comment below, letting us know what classic story you’d like to read a retelling of. One lucky winner will be randomly chosen Oct. 16. Make sure to check the comments/your email next Wednesday to claim your prize!

Per Little, Brown Books: The giveaway open to U.S. addresses only, sadly. No P.O. Boxes. The giveaway is now closed.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.