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Review: Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes (anthology)

Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes
Young Adult, Fairytale Retelling, Horror
Release Date: October 16th, 2012
Paperback $14.95 (340 pages, MONTH9BOOKS)
Ebook $6.99

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.

Tantalizingly twisted retellings of beloved children's rhymes (4 stars)

I am secretly a huge fan of Mother Goose Rhymes. I still have my gigantic and tattered copy of Marguerite de Angeli's Book of Nursery and Mother Goose Rhymes from which I begged constant readings of my favorites as a small child. But even then, in my pre-school years, some morbid part of me wondered at the hints at dark themes.

With deliciously wicked imaginings the tales collected here bring new light (no pun intended) to the possibilities. It's best suited to the fan of retellings and reimaginings that lean toward horror but fans of the authors who've contributed should definitely consider sampling it too.

With so many tales I decided not to review each one that I read but rather to select those I most enjoyed.

[SING A SONG OF SIX-PENCE by Sarwat Chadda], my favorite rhyme and a story well suited to the weirdness of it. I've not yet read any of Chadda's books but will definitely be adding them to my wishlist now.

[BOYS AND GIRLS COME OUT TO PLAY by Angie Frazier], an unexpected twist and a world I would love to see explored in full novel length. Fans of witches this one is for you!

[LIFE IN A SHOE by Heidi R. Kling], my favorite of the collection! Have you ever wondered why the old woman in the shoe had so many children? Kling can tell you in this monsterous dystopian tale.

[LITTLE MISS MUFFET by Georgia McBride], I wasn't sure what could really be done with this classic favorite of little girls everywhere but McBride pulled it off flawlessly. I will never look at spiders the same way again.

[SEA OF DEW by C. Lee McKenzie], another favorite rhyme from my childhood, retold with painful desolation and a poetic flair that gave me chills.

[TICK TOCK by Gretchen McNeil], the creepiest and briefest of retellings this one's enough to have you avoiding small children for years to come.

[THE WELL by K.M. Walton], I always thought Jack and Jill were the clumsiest kids ever. Now I know how they really went down that hill. Another one with a dystopian flavor that is sure to please YA readers.

[THE WISH by Suzanne Young], while not very original in it's twist, Young tells this one with a delicacy that still made it enjoyable. Be careful what you wish for is always good advice.

As a whole this is an inspired and enjoyable nibbler for those days leading up to Halloween. If you love dark retellings, especially when they involve murderous fiends there's more than one here that will leave a wicked gleam in your eye. I found a couple of them lacking in rereadability and one didn't seem very well suited to the theme of the anthology but I'd still recommend it to horror lovers in need of something dark to read this autumn.

If, like myself, you tend to read anthologies to find new authors who might interest you I don't think I would recommend this one for that purpose. With the thematic elements and shortness of these I don't think they'll turn you on to authors you haven't tried yet.

Other Reviews:
Levina C.

Notes: ARC received via NetGalley.

Check this book out if you liked:


Unknown said...

These people must really have great imaginations to come up with a twisted story based on a nursery rhyme. I don't want to know what happened to Ms. Muffet and those kids living in a shoe.

Rhianna said...

Since they're each pretty short it's hard to review them and not just spoil the story but the kids in the shoe one was really dystopian clever.

Tick Tock was the creepiest thing I've read in a long time though. *shudder*


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