Review: Two and Twenty Dark Tales

Review: Two and Twenty Dark Tales
Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes
by Angie Frazier, C. Lee McKenzie, Francisco X. Stork, Georgia McBride, Gretchen McNeil, Heidi R. Kling, Jessie Harrell, K.M. Walton, Karen Mahoney, Leah Cypess, Leigh Fallon, Lisa Mantchev, Max Scialdone, Michelle Zink, Nancy Holder, Nina Berry, Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, Sarwat Chadda, Shannon Delany, Suzanne Lazear, Suzanne Young

Genres: Anthology, Retelling
Publication date: October 16, 2012
by Month9Books

Format: eARC


Amazon | Book Depository

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.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Dark retellings of Mother Goose rhymes? Well, sign me up, s’il vous plaît! Thank you NetGalley for the copy :)
There are a lot of stories in this anthology written by many talented authors who I applaud for successfully adapting nursery rhymes into dark stories that would keep the readers at the edges of their seats. Not all of them five-star stories, but most are solid four-stars whose elements range from dystopian, horror, and paranormal, among many others. This is definitely a book to read if you’re tired of the usual Young Adult novels out there :p

Here are some individual reviews:

1.) As Blue as the Sky and Just as Old by Nina Berry (** / 2 out of 5)

– Short story but it was kinda weird and scattered. I didn’t like it very much, despite references of supposed Welsh mythology (not familiar with them, unfortunately…), because the characters were just too queer for me to appreciate. I mean, I like queer people (most of the time?) but the characters here were just too bizarre. A “tracker” who only has a few lines, a girl who can sing mournfully who follows a guy to a motel after a minute of talking to him, the guy the girl followed who tried to rape her later, and a king from hell that transformed into ice… um… okay… o.o I expected the anthology to start strong, but the first story was disappointing and all over the place. Hopefully the next one will deliver :/

2.) Sing a Song of Six-Pence by Sarwat Chadda (**** / 4 out of 5)

– A better story than the previous one. The world portrayed here reeked of despair and anguish, but even with such formidable elements, a mother finds a way to be with her son. A story of love that goes beyond death. Very beautiful =)

3.) Clockwork by Leah Cypess (***** / 5 out of 5)

– Another great story, involving a witch, a king bent on conspiracies, and a princess who had to make a difficult decision in the end. It was a simple story with quite predictable twists, and a conclusion that may be both sweet and depressing. Despite all that, it was a quick, pleasant read. It would have made a good first story in this anthology.

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A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena


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  1. says

    I don’t usually read anthologies because I usually find myself getting bored with them – I guess short stories don’t really hold me all that much. ;) But I did get this off of Netgalley as well, so hopefully there’ll be some good material because there are some good authors. Glad you enjoyed it overall, Faye. :)

    • says

      I share the same sentiments! I’ve read some anthologies but they weren’t that good :/ this one was different, though, but maybe that’s because it was based on Mother Goose rhymes and I was curious how it would all work out.. haha.

  2. says

    I will have to look into this! Sounds interesting.. I like reading books about common things we all think we know and twisted alternate versions..