Friday, October 19, 2012

Two and Twenty Dark Tales

Two and Twenty Dark Tales edited by Georgia McBride and Michelle Zink
4/5 stars
Month9Books, 2012
311 pages
YA Fantasy Short Stories

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

As an electronic galley, this book is missing the full entries from Nancy Holder, C. Lee McKenzie, and Georgia McBride's poem. I have reviewed what was contained in what I received. One other note is that the formatting on this e-ARC is very odd with a mixing of fonts that made it a little difficult to read at times but I persevered! I also anticipated recognizing most of the stories but as it turns out, I am not very familiar with the Mother Goose fairy tales. Still I enjoyed almost all of the stories and think this collection is well-worth seeking out.

As Blue as the Sky and Just as Old by Nina Berry: First up, starting by quoting a poem I did not recognize (which made me think I wouldn't enjoy this) but I ended up loving this one. It starts out very mysteriously but then the action ramps up. I loved the theme of breaking bad cycles to create your own future as well as the fact that it reminded me of this song I adore ("Meadowlark" as sung by Sarah Brightman).

Sing a Song of Six-Pence by Sarwat Chadda: Having read Dark Goddess by Chadda, I had high expectations for the writing in this selection in addition to actually being familiar with the story that inspired it. This is a very dark tale (as are most of the stories as hinted by the title) about a woman going after her child and the being she goes to for help.

Clockwork by Leah Cypess: Another rhyme I recognized-definitely one of the standouts in this collection! A princess was turned into a mouse while her cousin took over the throne-what sacrifices will she have to make for the greater good?

Blue by Sayantani DasGupta: I found this story to be very bizarre and not at all to my liking. It was very lyrical but not much happened.

Pieces of Eight by Shannon Delany with Max Scialdone: This story seemed very fairy-tale-esque to me. The hero has a quest and conveniently receives all the aid and assistance he needs before digging deep within himself to complete his journey. It felt a little haphazard in that I sometimes had trouble following how one event led to the next.

Wee Willie Winkie by Leigh Fallon: I found this one very scary (especially harrowing for those under sixteen) although I had a little trouble getting involved at first. By the ending, I was on the edge of my seat!

Boys & Girls Come Out to Play by Angie Frazier: Unfortunately this story has something I hate (girl has the hots for her sister's fiance, which are reciprocated if tamped down) and there was a confusing middle but I loved, loved, loved the ending. So perfect for the tone of this collection!

I Come Bearing Souls by Jessie Harrell: I loved that this story used Egyptian mythology (more of that in YA please!) but I don't think we spent enough time here to really appreciate everything.

The Lion and the Unicorn, Part the First by Nancy Holder: As suggested in the title, this is part one of a two part story; the second part was not in this ARC so I don't know how the story ends (I suspect unhappily given what happens in just about every other story) but I was very intrigued by this taste. Set during the reign of James I, we see a different side to the witchcraft trials.

Life in a Shoe by Heidi R. King: In a dystopian future, women are naught but child incubators, having baby after baby as the men arrive for short breaks from fighting a never-ending war. Very bleak although the ending does try to leave us with some hope.

Candelight by Suzanne Lazear: Bratty kids escape their "overbearing" mom only to discover that their actions have consequences! This seemed very familiar to me and the "twist" at the ending was not at all surprising to me.

One for Sorrow by Karen Mahoney: Although this was one of the more anticipated stories for me, after liking The Iron Witch, I was not very impressed. Amid all the other stories, I kind of forgot about this one. It does not help that there is a crow after the second story also featured a crow.

Those Who Whisper by Lisa Mantchev: I thought this story was amazing! I think that was partly because it really reminded me of a fairy tale; additionally it actually had a happier ending than most of the other ones with an excellent survivor of a main character.

Little Miss Muffet by Georgia McBride: This story kind of confused me. I understand the idea somewhat as I'm very familiar with the rhyme but it was too weird for me.

Sea of Dew by C. Lee McKenzie:  Want to read about people adrift at sea dying of dehydration? Well, you've got your wish here. This story was just so depressing.

Tick Tock by Gretchen McNeil: I thought this story had a very creepy atmosphere but I was puzzled by what happened. The events didn't lead into each other.

A Pocket Full of Posy by Pamela van Hylckama Vlieg: I thought the writing and suspense were great here as a boy wakes up with his girlfriend dead and no memory of how that happens. As he searches to prove to himself that he didn't do it, he discovers what did; I didn't like that ending but I did like the beginning.

The Well by KM Walton: A sort of apocalyptic Jack and Jill-very dark but a little too short for my taste.

The Wish by Suzanne Young: I feel like most of my favorite stories were in the beginning but this is an exception as this was another delight for me. A young girl wishes she were dead and then meets a boy who makes her want otherwise.

A Ribbon of Blue by Michelle Zink: I liked the start but wasn't as sold on the ending. I also wish there had been an editor's note to close the anthology instead of just nothing.

Overall: It looks like these stories are arranged alphabetically by author's last name and although it may seem daunting from looking at my list, I think it was fairly well balanced with a mix of genres and writing styles to suit everyone. I think this book is a winner!

Cover: Not thrilled about the dead girl; at the least, we could have been shown her dress.



  1. I can't wait to read this book! I am going to bookmark this review and hop back to it after I have read it to compare :)

  2. I'm glad this one is a winner. I love short story anthologies and Two And Twenty Dark Tales sounds awesome.


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