Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes
- Method of Obtaining: I obtained my copy via NetGalley.
- Published by: Month9Books
- Release Date: 10/16/2012
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.
Reason for Reading:
- I adore fairy tale retellings
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Last semester I was fortunate enough to take a seminar in the uncanny. This class introduced stories from the Grimm Brothers along with tales of creepiness from Kafka, Geothe, and other romantic, strange fairytales. We applied Freud’s theory of the uncanny and Kristeva’s theory of the abject to these stories and came out richer for it.
So I was excited when I got my hands on these dark retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes – because these rhymes ARE dark and I wanted to see what some well-known authors did when given the task of coming up with a story to match. While I didn’t expect the stories to be good across the board, I was hugely entertained by quite a few of them which is enough for me to bump up my rating and actually recommend this book for other lovers of the uncanny.
One of my favorite stories in this anthology deals with the Candlelight rhyme – one which was unfamiliar to me. It reminded me of an old tv program I watched years ago in which children were paraded down a hall to choose a new set of parents (that does not happen in this short story, but it shares a thematic principle). That short story was the only one of the bunch that I finished thinking I would have loved to read a full story on it.
The rest ranged from good to pretty bad – but mostly reminded me of some exercises we did in creative writing class. Short-story writing is harder than it seems it might be. It requires a firm grasp of the world, a perfectly place introduction into that world, and characters which are completely fleshed out so that the reader gets the sense they’ve known them for years by the time that reader finishes the first sentence. Unfortunately, most of the stories contained in this book did not meet that criteria – but still… it was entertaining, and dark, and fun to read as Halloween approaches.
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