Saturday 8 December 2012

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

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.

Visit the Month9Books website for more information about the anthology

I thought I'd include a list of the short stories included in the anthology and the author they were written by for your information:
  1. As Blue as the Sky and Just as Old - Nina Berry
  2. Sing a Song of Six-Pence - Sarwat Chadda
  3. Clockwork - Leah Cypress
  4. Blue - Sayantani DasGupta
  5. Pieces of Eight - Shannon Delaney with Max Scialdone
  6. Wee Willie Winkie - Leigh Fallon
  7. Boy and Girls Come Out to Play - Angie Frazier
  8. I Come Bearing Souls - Jessie Harrell
  9. The Lion and the Unicorn - Nancy Holder
  10. Life in a Shoe - Heidi Kling
  11. Candlelight - Suzanne Lazear
  12. One for Sorrow - Karen Mahoney
  13. Those Who Whisper - Lisa Mantchev
  14. Little Miss Muffet - Georgia McBride
  15. Sea of Dew - C. Lee McKenzie
  16. Tick Tock - Gretchen McNeil
  17. A Pocket Full of Posy - Pamela van Hyckama Vlieg
  18. The Well - K.M. Walton
  19. The Wish - Suzanne Young
  20. A Ribbon of Blue - Michelle Zink
I think everyone must be familiar with at least one Mother Goose nursery rhyme, children have been reciting these rhymes in the playground for hundreds of years so even if you don't realise it I'm sure you'll recognise some of them. In the Two and Twenty Dark Tales anthology some of today's most popular YA authors have come together to look at the dark side of these nursery rhymes and give us their own take on them in the form of short stories. These short stories cover a whole range of genres ranging from historical to futuristic dystopian, from modern settings to fantasy lands and everything in between. The stories also range from fairly light hearted with a hint of romance through to downright creepy and with a touch of horror thrown in for good measure.

Personally I enjoy reading anthologies as a way to try out new to me authors. I was particularly interested in this anthology for Karen Mahoney's story called One for Sorrow though and I enjoyed it as much as I was expecting to, I love Karen's writing style and the story had a fab twist at the end. As with any anthology, particularly one with twenty different stories in it, there were some tales I really loved and others that I wasn't so keen on. What did surprise me was how many of the Mother Goose rhymes that I didn't actually recognise - thankfully each story starts with the rhyme it was based on because I have to admit that there were some stories I wouldn't have had a clue about otherwise. I think my main problem with the anthology was how short each story was, I know I should probably have expected that considering how many different stories are included but every time I started to really get into a story I'd reach the end. There were a couple of stores that I didn't enjoy because the author didn't have enough time to complete the world building needed to tell the tale, these stories had a lot of potential though and could have been wonderful as a full length novel or even a longer novella.

In spite of my problem with the length of some of the stories there were still some that really stood out as memorable and didn't get lost amongst the crowd. I'm not going to talk about each individual story in this review (although you can see my opinion about them all in my status updates on Goodreads) but I will mention that my favourites (along with Karen Mahoney's One for Sorrow) were Sing a Song of Six-Pence by Sarwat Chadda, Boys and Girls Come out to Play by Angie Frazier, I Come Bearing Souls by Jessie Harrell, Tick Tock by Gretchen McNeil and A Ribbon of Blue by Michelle Zink.

The good thing about having so many different authors and writing styles is that there is sure to be something that catches the imagination of everyone who picks up the book. I'm sure everyone will have different favourites but I don't doubt there being something that you like in here. One thing I was very happy to discover is that this is a charity anthology and the proceeds from the sale of the first 5,000 copies will be donated to an organisation that works to increase awareness of YA literature. This is a fun anthology full of dark little stories that are quick and easy to read and include the occasional shock ending. You'll never be able to look at your favourite nursery rhymes in quite the same way again!

Source: Received from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.


  1. Ooh, the concept behind this sounds fab! I agree that it can be annoying with anthologies, that just as you get into a story it ends. But I like that you come across new authors that you might not have known otherwise.

  2. I really enjoyed checking this book out and finding some new authors. I also enjoyed the variety-not every story was super dark, thankfully!

  3. @ Hannah - the thing I love about anthologies is getting to discover new to me authors and there are definitely some in this book that I want to read more books by :o)

    @Bookworm1858 - I'm so glad you enjoyed this one too :o)



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