I received this as an Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.
This is a collection of short stories, based on the ‘classic’ fairy tale (some more obviously based than others), but all with a dark, unusual or sinister twist to them – and many feeling a lot more contemporary. The authors chosen are some of the best young adult writers of today, including a couple of my daughter’s favourite authors – Amanda Hocking and Julie Kagawa.
I read it with the intention of ‘checking out’ its suitability for my 14 year old daughter.
I haven’t read many collections of short stories, which is a bit odd, considering I’m more likely to write them myself, and the fact that I have a very short attention span. However, the issue with any kind of compilation is that it is likely to be a bit hit and miss – you can’t please everyone with every inclusion.
Luckily, the first story The Key by Rachel Hawkins had enough pace, intrigue and mystery to set the pace. It wasn’t overdoing the fairy tale aspect, and it wasn’t too in-your-face supernatural to be a turn-off.
The stories were extremely diverse, which made the collection all the more engaging – from a psychic girl wondering whether to trust her boyfriend, to a musician inheriting his father’s muse, a rock band called Skin Trade or a re-imagination of The Snow Queen. Just a couple of the tales were slightly near the mark, making me wonder whether they were ENTIRELY suitable for a 14 year old – but in the greater scheme of things, that’s probably just me being overly-sensitive, as they were not particularly graphic.
The standouts for me were The Twelfth Girl by Malindo Lo – an intoxicating schoolgirl tale of the ‘in’ crowd, all night parties, alcohol and hidden tunnels – The Raven Princess by Jon Skovron – an unexpectedly sweet story of a beautiful princess cursed to live as a raven – and my personal favourite Beauty & The Chad by Sarah Rees Brennan – a highly entertaining retelling of Beauty & The Beast.
In this the Beast was actually a surfer dude type called Chad who had been transformed and transported to the world of fairy tales, and just misses his frat mates and his X Box. The dialogue is clever, and Chad’s annoyance at the animated items within the castle trying to ‘serve’ him constantly had me grinning throughout.
A lovely collection, easy to read, and enough to have at least a few stories that you’ll be glad you read. A good YA alternative to Kelly Link’s Pretty Monsters, which I love! I think The Faery Handbag is my favourite short story ever.
Grim by Christine Johnson will be published on 25th February 2014.