Dec 24, 2012

Book Review: Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes

Book Cover: Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes

Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes

Ebook, 342 pages
Published on October 16, 2012 by Month9Books
(Provided for review by the publisher via NetGalley)



In this anthology, 20 authors explore the dark and hidden meanings behind some of the most beloved Mother Goose nursery rhymes through short story retellings. The dark twists on classic tales range from exploring whether Jack truly fell or if Jill pushed him instead to why Humpty Dumpty, fragile and alone, sat atop so high of a wall. The authors include Nina Berry, Sarwat Chadda, Leigh Fallon, Gretchen McNeil, and Suzanne Young.

List Of Stories In Anthology:

  1. "As Blue as the Sky and Just as Old" by Nina Berry
  2. "Sing a Song of Six-Pence" by Sarwat Chadda
  3. "Clockwork" by Leah Cypress
  4. "Blue" by Sayantani DasGupta
  5. "Pieces of Eight" by Shannon Delaney with Max Scialdone
  6. "Wee Willie Winkie" by Leigh Fallon
  7. "Boys and Girls Come Out to Play" by Angie Frazier
  8. "I Come Bearing Souls" by Jessie Harrell
  9. "The Lion and the Unicorn: Part the First" by Nancy Holder
  10. "Life in a Shoe" by Heidi R. Kling
  11. "Humpty Dumpty" (poem) by Georgia Mc Bride
  12. "Candlelight" by Suzanne Lazear
  13. "One for Sorrow" by Karen Mahoney
  14. "Those Who Whisper" by Lisa Mantchev
  15. "Little Miss Muffet" by Georgia McBride
  16. "Sea of Dew" (short version) by C. Lee McKenzie
  17. "Tick Tock" by Gretchen McNeil
  18. "A Pocket Full of Posy" by Pamela van Hylckama Vlieg
  19. "The Well" by K.M. Walton
  20. "The Wish" by Suzanne Young
  21. "A Ribbon of Blue" by Michelle Zink
  22. "Sea of Dew" (extended version) by C. Lee McKenzie
  23. "The Lion and the Unicorn: Part the Second" by Nancy Holder

Note: There are three stories I did not read in this anthology (names are crossed in list) since they were not included in ARC - they will be only available in final publication version.

My favorites: “Wee Willie Winkie” (scariest), "Life in a Shoe" (dystopian), "I Come Bearing Souls" (Egyptian mythology), "A Ribbon of Blue" (sad and beautiful at the same time), "Sing a Song of Six-Pence" (very gothic dark fantasy with unexpected touching end), "Pieces of Eight" (one of the longest, feels almost like a full novel)...

My Thoughts:

Anthologies are like a sampler, an assortment of boxed chocolates. You never know what are you going to get read but you get an opportunity to taste a lot of new flavors authors. I don’t know why I did not read many anthologies before, but I must admit I am getting addicted. I got a feeling 2013 is going to be my anthology-addiction year. :)

Two and Twenty Dark Tales is an anthology of horror and paranormal stories for young adults inspired by Mother Goose Rhymes. Francisco X. Stork said it all in Foreword:

“Who would want to transform innocent nursery rhymes into dark and scary fairy tales? What kind of perverse minds would twist words meant to put us to sleep into colorful and sometimes fun, but nevertheless scary, nightmares?”

Well, as a matter of fact – a lot of authors. 22 of them to be precise. The stories they wrote are not exact retellings since they sometimes just use motives from rhymes as inspiration or main plot elements. Of course there are a couple of stories that are literal retellings, but most of them are not.

If you are not familiar with Mother Goose Rhymes, don’t worry. Before each story there will be a song that was an inspiration. Since I only knew song about Jack & Jill, this was a great help to me. I loved reading these stories and finding out how writers mind ‘click’, how they make the connections and what they will make from a couple of simple rhymes.

I will not do review of each story separately because that will be too long. And since they are all short, it is very hard commenting without spoilers. So I will try to in general comment what to expect.

This anthology is for young adult audience. What does it mean? It means that main characters are coming of age teens and stories usually center at some crucial event in their life. As usual, most of the stories are told from female point of view except “A Pocket Full of Posy” by Pamela van Hylckama Vlieg which has a male main character.

The title of the book tells you to expect dark retellings, so there will be a lot of stories with gothic/dark fantasy or horror elements (although there is one lonely sci-fi dystopian). As for HEA it will happen in 50% of cases. So if you must have your happy ending, you will be disappointed sometimes.

Reading this anthology was fun and interesting adventure. I was not familiar with any of these authors before, although I recognized a lot of the names, but after tasting what are they able to do, I will be definitely reading more of their work. So if you don’t know what next to read, try this book and you will definitely find a couple of new authors that are worth checking out.

My Rating: 4 out of 5

I recommend this book to fans of: ya paranormal, ya horror, ya fantasy, retellings or to those who contemplate reading something from these genres.

Let's Talk:

Did you read Two and Twenty Dark Tales? Or some other Mother Goose retelling?

Did you read any other book from authors participating in Two and Twenty Dark Tales anthology?

If you have read Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes, which was you favorite story?

Any other thoughts or comments?

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