Bone Swans by C. S. E. Cooney

Rating: 4 of 5

A collection of five novellas, Bone Swans exceeded my expectations.

I’ll admit to not being the right reader for “Life on the Sun” and “Martyr’s Gem.” And “The Big Bah-Ha” had clowns, need I say more?

But I absolutely lost my mind when I finished “How the Milkmaid Struck a Bargain with the Crooked One,” a fairy-tale retelling based on Rumpelstiltskin tales. It was SO good, an instant favorite — seriously, it’s worth buying this book for that story alone.

The other retelling, “The Bone Swans of Amandale,” a mash-up of “The Pied Piper” and “The Juniper Tree,” was more sinister than, yet as equally fulfilling as “Milkmaid.” That’s saying a lot coming from me because I’m not usually too impressed with the Pied Piper. (See “Some Wait” by Stephen Graham Jones in The Starlit Wood for another exception to my usual meh response to the Piper.) Maurice cracked me up! He reminded me of Templeton from Charlotte’s Web; although, Maurice does end up being more good than bad. Almost an anti-hero.

If you’re looking for stories with a fresh voice, I highly recommend this collection.

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(Review cross-posted on LibraryThing and Goodreads.)

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