Sunday, July 7, 2013

Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt Review

Name: Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales
Editors: Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt
Authors: Melissa Marr, Tim Pratt, Neil Gaiman, Carrie Ryan, Gene Wolfe, Kelley Armstrong, Rick Yancey, Kami Garcia, Charles Vess, Holly Black, Garth Nix, Margaret Stohl, Saladin Ahmed
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 22nd, 2013
Format: Arc copy
Buy the book on Amazon
368 pages

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


My Review:

What a great collection of short stories!  I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book at BEA, and I'm so happy that I decided to read it this week. These stories were captivating, dark, and twisted, and I loved them!  Although they were each based off classic stories, you do not have to read the originals to enjoy the retellings; however, I must warn you that, if you are anything like me, you will have added many non-canon yet still classic stories to your "to-read" list by the time you finish this collection.

One of my favorite stories was "That The Machine May Progress Eternally" by Carrie Ryan; it was inspired by E. M. Forster's "The Machine Stops."  This was the first story in the collection, and what an amazing story it was!  It is, in its heart, a dark and haunting story about both the role of technology and the ease of worship.  In a mostly destroyed world where those living above ground have to work for every scrap of food, Tavil takes a trip underground, originally as a joke to visit The Machine before its inevitable demise.  However, he quickly gets sucked into a place where technology does everything for him and he is unable to leave; the scary part is how little time it takes for him to become wholly dependent on and reverent of The Machine, and how unwilling he is to leave even when he knows he must.

Another story that stood out to me was Tim Pratt's "The Cold Corner," which was based off "The Jolly Corner" by Henry James.  This story is all about the endless possibilities and streams in time that can occur in a person's life.  Though it was completely different, the premise reminded me a bit of the movie Donnie Darko; it was all about the decisions one makes and where those choices lead you.  What happens when you make one decision that changes your entire life?  Where would you be if you had made a different decision?  In this story, a man meets many ghosts of people he could have been, and what would have happened if he had chosen to live his life differently.

I was also really intrigued by Rick Yancey's story, "When First We Were Gods," which was originally inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Birth-Mark."  In a world where the elite have the ability to constantly back up the data stored in their minds and switch bodies, effectively living forever, does love have a place?  What is the point of taking a risk if there is no real chance that one might die?  I really loved the last line of the story, which the main character remarks about love: "Tell me it isn't pointless.  Tell me that it's beautiful" (196).

I especially enjoyed the Authors' Notes at the end of each story.  I was captivated by most of the stories in this collection, and I thought it was really interesting to read about why each author chose to rework the stories that they did.  Several other stories that I didn't mention above but I still think deserved recognition for their excellent writing, their original ideas, and their captivating retellings are "Millcara" by Holly Black, "Sirocco" by Margaret Stohl, "Awakened" by Melissa Marr, "New Chicago" by Kelley Armstrong, and "The Soul Collector" by Kami Garcia.  Overall this was a really great collection of dark and intriguing stories, and if the impressive list of authors that contributed stories does not make you want to read this, I hope this review will encourage you to pick up a copy when it comes out in October.

My Rating:

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