The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg

35035160The Merry Spinistery: Tales of Everyday Horror
By Mallory Ortberg
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
ISBN: 9781250113429
Pages: 240
Genre: Retellings/Horror/Short Stories

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From Mallory Ortberg comes a collection of darkly mischievous stories based on classic fairy tales. Adapted from her beloved “Children’s Stories Made Horrific” series, “The Merry Spinster” takes up the trademark wit that endeared Ortberg to readers of both The Toast and her best-selling debut Texts From Jane Eyre. The feature become among the most popular on the site, with each entry bringing in tens of thousands of views, as the stories proved a perfect vehicle for Ortberg’s eye for deconstruction and destabilization. Sinister and inviting, familiar and alien all at the same time, The Merry Spinster updates traditional children’s stories and fairy tales with elements of psychological horror, emotional clarity, and a keen sense of feminist mischief.

Readers of The Toast will instantly recognize Ortberg’s boisterous good humor and uber-nerd swagger: those new to Ortberg’s oeuvre will delight in her unique spin on fiction, where something a bit mischievous and unsettling is always at work just beneath the surface.

Unfalteringly faithful to its beloved source material, The Merry Spinster also illuminates the unsuspected, and frequently, alarming emotional complexities at play in the stories we tell ourselves, and each other, as we tuck ourselves in for the night.

Bed time will never be the same.


My Thoughts

The Merry Spinster is a collection of short stories in the form of retellings. Each is presented in a unique manner with an often unsettling or brooding twist. Some are easily recognizable while others are not so familiar.

It is immediately evident that Ortberg offers each story with a distinct prose that is graceful and laden with metaphors. Her writing entices the reader and promises an experience that will be hard to compare to any other. For that alone, I found some appreciation within. But that is not to say I did not struggle with certain elements in the grim and often strange collection.

What I appreciated..

  • The elegant prose and truly original re-imagings of childhood classics.
  • The author’s ability to find a common ground between the often over the top joyous portrayal of fairy tales we encounter today and their darker, more disturbing origins.
  • A set of morally defined tales with an often feministic approach.
  • A psychological tactic to presenting discomfort and the unsettling that was refreshing in this genre that is usually riddled with horror of late.

Challenges I encountered..

  • At times the symbolism was muddled and bordered confusing. I struggled to make sense out of some portions.
  • The brevity of each story frankly limited their impact.
  • Stories were a hit and miss. Enjoy one and be tempted to skim the next.

A few of my favorites:

The Daughter Cells
The Six Boy Coffins
The Rabbit

Overall, this was an engaging and fast-paced read that offers a nice reprieve from the usual. Ideal for busting up some of the monotony and combatting a slump. Fans will appreciate the familiar and savor the unfamiliar. However, do not expect a significant amount of depth, as brevity is likely to be an issue.

*I would like to thank Henry Holt & Company and Netgalley for this copy. The above review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.

tea cup

Serves well with a nice cup of chamomile to settle in for an easy, evening read.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading!

Danielle ❤

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The Science Fiction Hall of Fame: Volume 1 – Audiobook Review

scifihallofameaudio (1)
The Science Fiction Hall of Fame (Volume 1, 1929-1964)
Edited by: Robert Silverberg
Includes Stories by: Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury and many more.
Narrators: Various
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Unabridged: 28 hours and 9 minutes
Genre: Classic Science Fiction

Synopsis: 

The definitive collection of the best in science fiction stories between 1929-1964.

This book contains twenty-six of the greatest science fiction stories ever written. They represent the considered verdict of the Science Fiction Writers of America, those who have shaped the genre and who know, more intimately than anyone else, what the criteria for excellence in the field should be. The authors chosen for The Science Fiction Hall Fame are the men and women who have shaped the body and heart of modern science fiction; their brilliantly imaginative creations continue to inspire and astound new generations of writers and fans.

Robert Heinlein in “The Roads Must Roll” describes an industrial civilization of the future caught up in the deadly flaws of its own complexity. “Country of the Kind,” by Damon Knight, is a frightening portrayal of biological mutation. “Nightfall,” by Isaac Asimov, one of the greatest stories in the science fiction field, is the story of a planet where the sun sets only once every millennium and is a chilling study in mass psychology.

Originally published in 1970 to honor those writers and their stories that had come before the institution of the Nebula Awards, The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame, Volume One, was the book that introduced tens of thousands of young readers to the wonders of science fiction. Too long unavailable, this new edition will treasured by all science fiction fans everywhere.

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thoughts

Clocking in at over 28 hours, The Science Fiction Hall of Fame was an incredibly easy listen that seem to fly by over the course of a few days. Offering a wider range of stories accompanied by varying narrators, I quite enjoyed my time with this collection.

While it is always difficult to review anthologies (particularly of this size) I did want to share a few thoughts on this one, as many have been such a miss for me lately. When I discover a collection that feels well-balanced and overall rewarding, I want to hand it the spotlight for a few.

With that stated, I do feel it is important to mention that Volume 1 is not without flaws. As to be expected, there are times the narration missed the mark or the true age of the material was inevitably felt. Also, I received an MP3 file from the publisher, so there was a lot of information that was not accessible in terms of biographies. Several stories that were multiple files in length, actually downloaded out of order. This was a frustration to work through and I fear I missed some titles. But none of this was enough to take away from the enjoyment of a fantastic collection of sci-fi classics.

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Supplied in easily digestible chunks, this anthology takes the reader on a journey that begins in 1929 and end in 1964. There are the notorious tales of androids and psychic abilities gone bad to space craft stowaways that challenge our moral obligations and stories where protagonists face situations with universal ramifications. Each story feels unique and challenges the reader (listener) on some varying emotional level. And as good science fiction does, there are many subtle and not so subtle messages  contained throughout that explore humanity on a multifaceted spectrum.

A few of my favorites included:

A Martian Odyssey by Stanley G. Weinbaum
Helen O’Loy by Lester del Rey
The Quest for Saint Aquin by Anthony Boucher
The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clarke
It’s a Good Life by Jerome Bixby
The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin
Fondly Fahrenheit by Alfred Bester

Even with the obstacles I encountered, I can easily say that this a collection of great value for all fans of science fiction! I will definitely be picking up a physical copy of this anthology for my shelves at first opportunity and look forward to exploring later volumes.

*I would like to thank audiojukebox and the publisher for my copy. The above review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.

tea cup

 

Enjoyed over several cups of chamomile tea with a hint of lavender.


Purchase Links: Amazon.com Book Depository

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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Mini Reviews: Tor Books

mini reviews

I have decided to start the week of on a lighter note with several small recaps of some recent short stories/novellas I have completed. As I mentioned not too long ago, these brief encounters offer me a chance to cleanse the “palate”. Particularly when I am combating a slump or finding myself indecisive. Often more so than not, that right short story will point in the best direction 😉


Tor Books

With an affection for all things fantasy and sci-fi, I am certainly no stranger to Tor Books and Tor.com. As many of you probably know, they boast some incredible reads. They also happen to publish a very wide and rewarding range of short stories and novellas. I will often turn to Tor when seeking a casual, quick read. So not too surprisingly, this week’s short story collection happens to be all Tor titles.

burdenA Burden Shared
By Jo Walton

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This is a very brief story with a strong residual after effect. Portraying a life where we are given the ability to transfer pain between individuals, it shows the effects of a family choosing to share a daughter’s burden. A Burden Shared raises significant questions and addresses the importance and value of our own pain. As a mother and a woman living with chronic illness, this was an amazingly heavy hitter at only 19 pages.

mdiplopiaMental Diplopia
By Julianna Baggott

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This is an elegantly sad tale that explores the downfall of humanity during a unique virus that returns people to their past memories before eventually killing them. At only 31 pages in length, I feel this one should be left to explore without further insight. Haunting and lingering.

 

deaddjinnA Dead Djinn in Cairo
By P. Djeli Clark

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While maybe the least memorable of my recent short story reads, A Dead Djinn in Cairo still packs a nice punch. Set in 19th century Cairo, surrounding the investigation of, you guessed it, a dead djinn, this story cleverly spins elements of the supernatural and mythical into a fast paced and fun urban fantasy that goes off without a hitch.

 

motoHello, Moto
By Nnedi Okorafor

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Okay, I am convinced I will read anything with this author’s name on it. Ever since I began Binti, I am hooked on her ability to weave fascinating stories that offer a nice dose of diversity and unexpected elements. Here she has combined witchcraft and science to create a brilliant story in the mere span of 16 pages.


Have you read any of these or would you? What, if any, short stories have you read recently?

Lets Chat!

Danielle ❤

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