Friday, November 15, 2013

ARC Review: Rags & Bones - Melissa Marr

A  copy was provided by the publisher
in exchange for
an honest review.

Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales by Melissa Marr & Others
Genre: YA, classic retelling
Published on October 22, 2013
Published by Little Brown
Pages: 368
Read From: 11.3.13 - 11.8.13

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.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I do like it, with its "twisted fairytale" feel and rather ominous ambiance. If only this volume had contained more fairytales than other short stories.

Story #1 - That the Machine May Progress Eternally (Carrie Ryan): Generally I'm not a fan of anti-technology stories because they tend to be anti-progress because progress is destroying the natural world, harming food and people and medicine, et cetera. Roll eyes! But this short story, a retelling of E. M. Forster's The Machine Stops, was actually rather creepy because it didn't take on a preachy tone. It was an intriguing science fiction/dystopian short story that I really enjoyed. Written in third person, past tense, the style is perfect for the story.

Story #2 - Losing Her Divinity (Garth Nix): A retelling of Rudyard Kipling's The Man Who Would be King. I found this to be a bizarre little short story, and one that I enjoyed mostly because of the more unique style of the narration. Told in first person, it reads like a person having a conversation with two others (which is exactly what's going on). It was confusing at first, but once I got into the swing of it, I found it to be entertaining and amusing. The end, however, was extremely abrupt, and there's sexual alludements.

Story #3 - The Sleeper and the Spindle (Neil Gaiman): A retelling of Sleeping Beauty, this was probably my favorite short story. Gaiman manages to make Sleeping Beauty very dark (which he is very good at) and put a whole new twist to it. I'm not sure I'll ever like the original ever again! None of the characters are ever given names, the Reader thinks they know how the story will go, and then WHAM! Gaiman gives it a nice twist. The narration is third person, past tense.

Story #4 - The Cold Corner (Tim Pratt): A retelling of Henry James' The Jolly Corner. Aspects of this particular story felt like a Twilight Zone, which I liked. However, our narrator is unnecessarily bisexual (but seems mostly interested in other guys), and also unnecessarily goes around assuming everyone will judge him because he drives a Prius, causing the Author to paint smalltown Southerners as close-minded people. I personally am not saying that they aren't, nor am I saying they are. People are people, but the Author wrote about it in such a way that it totally caused the whole story to feel like an agenda. Content-wise, there's 5 s-words. Narration style is first person, past tense, and because I didn't care about the protagonist, I didn't care for the narration.

Story #5 - Millcara (Holly Black): A retelling of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla. The agenda feel continues, only this time our protagonist isn't bisexual; she's a young lesbian vampire. Who just looooves to talk about her girlfriend's succulent lips, body heat, skin, and everything else. Ugh; I don't want the details, thank you very much. While this, too, felt like a Twilight Zone, I again didn't care for the protagonist, and I am also sick of the lesbian/gay agenda being pushed down my throat. Narration: first person, past tense, though it jumped to present tense sometimes, as well as feeling almost like a stream-of-consciousness narration.

Story #6 - When First We Were Gods (Rick Yancey): A retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Birth-Mark. Maybe I don't understand short stories. Maybe liking the protagonist - or any of the characters - really isn't supposed to matter. Unfortunately, I disagree; short story or not, I still need to be able to like someone, and I didn't in this. Absolutely everyone was lecherous and sleeping with everyone else (so there's lots of bedroom scenes in this). And the premise - a futuristic society where rich people can download their consciousness into new bodies, so they always stayed young - quite honestly didn't interest me. Narration style was third person, past tense, and there isn't anything wrong with the style. I just didn't like the story itself.

Story #7 - Sirocco (Margaret Stohl): A retelling of Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto. This began dully, and I didn't expect it to get any better. But I ended up really enjoying it, with its twisted end and murder mystery feel. I didn't necessarily care about any of the characters, but the story did in fact make up for that. Content-wise: 1 s-word. Narration style: third person, past tense.

Story #8 - Awakened (Melissa Marr): A retelling of Kate Chopin's The Awakening. I have always found selkie legends fascinating, but I am not a general fan of modern selkie fiction, because it's all so sexual. Awakened is no exception. I couldn't feel sorry for the selkie woman, either, when her pelt is taken and she is forced to marry a man she cannot love, but is forced to obey. Why couldn't I feel sorry for her? Because she just goes and sleeps with said man's best friend, and said best friend doesn't do much to resist the temptation, so I couldn't like him, either. Style: first person, past tense.

Story #9 - New Chicago (Kelley Armstrong): A retelling of W. W. Jacob's The Monkey's Paw. Part Twilight Zone, part zombie short story, I did enjoy the general premise of the story: our protagonist steals a monkey's paw that is said to grant three wishes, but the person making the wishes has to be very careful how they wish, because the monkey's paw doesn't always grant one's wishes with the best intentions. Really, other than the language (3 g--damns, 1 s-word), this was one of the more interesting short stories. Style: third person, past tense.

Story #10 - The Soul Collector (Kami Garcia): A retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. I didn't realize it was a Rumpelstilskin retelling until the very end, it is so dissimilar. Which was a good and bad thing. I enjoy retellings that are different from the original, but I also like to see some familiar aspects. The similar aspects in this story required some interpretation. Because The Soul Collector deals with street crime, there's drug, sexual, and profanity content (5 s-words), but nothing horribly explicit. Style: first person, past and present tense.

Story #11 - Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy (Saladin Ahmed): A retelling of Spenser's The Faerie Queene. This was just bizarre. I didn't know if the weird factors were actually supposed to be happening, or if they were an allegory. There's snippets of (I assume) the original text in Old English that are, naturally, hard to read and therefore hard to understand. I don't really know if I liked this story or not. Style: first person, past tense.

Story #12 - Uncaged (Gene Wolf): A retelling of William Seabrook's The Caged White Werewolf of Saraban. This was another weird one that I had to read twice to fully grasp everything that was going on. I don't know if maybe my mind was just wandering the first time I read it, or if the narration was actually that hard to follow. It felt like it left out parts; like it jumped in its narration from moment to moment. I didn't especially care for the story; the twist (if there was one) was too obvious. Style: first person, journal narration.


  1. Rags & Bones is on my to read list, so when I saw your post on Goodreads, I had to check it out. Lovely blog and great review! Thank you for sharing. :) I'm really curious to check out The Sleeper and the Spindle.

    -new follower-

    1. Thank you for following my blog, Victoria! Yes, THE SLEEPER AND THE SPINDLE is very good; Neil Gaiman is so awesome. :)

  2. Ouch. Sounds like you got very few good stories and a lot of genres/characters that didn't interest you. I can't say I'm horribly surprised. (I thought about requesting this one on GR, but a little digging revealed it would not remain on my shelf afterward.)

    Here's hoping your next read is more fun and less agenda! :)

    1. To be honest, I mostly got it for Neil Gaiman's story. :) But I do wish it had had more good short stories; oh well. This month has been a downer for books, it seems. Better luck in December, hopefully!

  3. Thanks! Now I know which ones I'm definitely skipping lol :P Looking most forward to reading Neil Gaiman's story.

    1. Neil Gaiman's is definitely the best one. No real surprise, quite honestly; I've liked everything of his I've read (and watched, for that matter).


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