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The Merry Spinster
The Merry Spinster: Tales of everyday horror | Daniel Mallory Ortberg
'Dark and dreadful and persistently clever. Ortberg bloodily turns familiar tales inside out.' Rainbow Rowell 'A collection of stories delectable, formidable, and nimble. As a fantasist and short story writer, Ortberg is without peer.' Kelly Link 'Ortberg has a voracious appetite for poison apples, and a genius for finding the places in fairyland where all the bodies are buried. The Merry Spinster will ruin your most-loved fables, in the best possible way.' Charlie Jane Anders 'Ortberg has the sloe gin wit of Dorothy Parker and the soul of a Classics nerd. It's like both of them sat next to each other in The Merry Spinster and gossiped away. The result is an absolute delight.' John Scalzi 'Ortberg has created a Frankenstein's monster of familiar narratives . . . [that swings] between Terry Pratchett's satirical jocularity and Angela Carter's sinister, shrewd storytelling, and the result is gorgeous, unsettling, splenic, cruel, and wickedly smart. I've never read anything quite like them, and I bet, Dear Reader, that you haven't either.' Carmen Maria Machado A collection of darkly mischievous stories based on classic fairy tales. 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. 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.
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thelizflynn
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Mehso-so

Hmm I wanted to like this book much more than I did. I loved two of the stories, and liked most of the other ones. Some of the retellings were just meh. I think my expectations were just set too high based on the hype I had been hearing about it.

Caterina Same!!! I could copy and paste your review, it's exactly what I thought too. 😂🤷 4w
11 likes1 comment
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DGRachel
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Pickpick

This was a perfectly terrifying read to finish #screamathon with. I found most of the stories delightfully creepy, although a few were just odd. However, I was completely traumatized by Ortberg‘s retelling of The Velveteen Rabbit. I wish I could scrub that one from my memory. 😭

61 likes1 stack add
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haileybean
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Panpan

I‘m not mad. Just disappointed. The writing was beautiful, and that was the only thing that kept me reading. Some of the stories were spooky: I really liked The Six Boy-Coffins, and The Rabbit. The Daughter Cells was ok too - but then the rest either had me asking what the point was, or “that‘s it?”

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Brooke_H
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Pickpick

Whoa.

"The Rabbit" and "Some of Us Had Been Threatening Our Friend Mr Toad" will bury themselves in my subconscious and pop out unexpectedly to unsettle me. This is definitely going to happen.

These children's story retellings are funny and also dark AF. A couple of them fell flat for me, but for the most part, they're great. I think they're niche, though. If you love Grimm's Fairy Tales because of how dark and scary they are you‘ll like these.

15 likes2 stack adds
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Caterina
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Great start to the day. 💕

My fibro flare-up has mostly calmed down after the hot Epsom salt bath and a long night with a heated blanket. Didn't want to go for a run or a walk this morning though. This short story collection is okay so far - loved the Little Mermaid retelling, but didn't get into the Cinderella retelling. #BookFitnessChallenge #BFC @wanderinglynn

45 likes2 stack adds
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khooliha

Tagged for The Most Toys due to the Velveteen Rabbit inspired tale that's a real chiller.
I love this episode! I love Data's resistance methods and Kivas Fajoh is a top notch villian.
#startreksummermay

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Andorsey
Panpan

Dark twists on classic fairy tales. Too aggressive for someone who appreciates the originals. Entertaining but would not reread

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TracyReadsBooks
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Pickpick

Can‘t say I wasn‘t warned—it says it right on the back of the book, “...will ruin your most-loved fables, in the best possible way.” 🖤 The stories in this collection are recognizable but mutated into something...other. Ortberg has fashioned stories which dwell on all the dark, brooding, mysterious & yes, horrific aspects of fairy tales that are really lessons as much as they are entertainment. A well-written collection best for fans of horror.

Brewychock48 You made this sound so interesting,I just reserved it from my library 😎 7mo
23 likes3 stack adds1 comment
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kmwiley2
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6 likes1 stack add
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TracyReadsBooks
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Living near a MLB stadium means we don‘t just deal with winter/spring/summer/fall, we also deal with baseball season & not baseball season. Our proximity to the stadium can make life a little challenging sometimes but there‘s a lot about it that‘s great. Today is the home opener—the sun is out, the neighborhood is hopping & flooded with good vibes (in spite of the team‘s record) & I‘m reading my book outside. Spring is here! 🌼📖⚾️🌸

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BookAlongBlog
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Pickpick

4/5⭐
A retelling of classic fairy tales with a dark twist. This was a disturbing yet intriguing read. Some of these stories are stronger than others, and they are all very creepy and unsettling. There are themes of Feminism throughout as well as the bending of gender. An interesting read for sure.
The Daughter Cells (The Little Mermaid) and The Rabbit (The Velvetine Rabbit) were my favorites! I love the cover art as well.
#bookreview #bookblog

17 likes1 stack add
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Stephuhhnieee
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Kudos to the ones who put themselves on a book buying ban for 2019 and are sticking to it so far... I am not one of them 😂😭

#ZeroSelfControl
#MaybeNextYear?
#BookOutletHaul

Burghbookaddict Yeah I'm totally off the wagon too 😳 11mo
Stephuhhnieee @BurghBookAddict It‘s so bad! But so good! 11mo
Kaye I learned my lesson last month. I bought several kindle and audiobooks. All on our credit card. A huge bill. Mailed the check 2 weeks ago and it never arrived. That huge check is floating out there someplace. I had to pay 25 bucks to cancel the check, then write another to our bank. THAT made me swear off using the charge card. I DID buy a small Amazon card this week, which is how I‘d like to purchase books this year. No checks getting lost ! (edited) 11mo
See All 9 Comments
Stephuhhnieee @kaye Oh nooooo!! $25 to cancel?! That‘s ludicrous! I‘m sorry! Gift cards would be a good way to keep track of spending, though! And with amazon you load them to your account, so nothing getting lost :) 11mo
IamIamIam I say it every year and by February, I've totally blown it!!! Lol 11mo
Stephuhhnieee @IamIamIam Lol! It‘s a bittersweet struggle 😂 11mo
CoffeeNBooks I'm not sticking to my book-buying ban very well, either. I'm getting very good at coming up with elaborate reasons to justify my book purchases, however! 🤣 11mo
Stephuhhnieee @CoffeeNBooks Lol! Please share your skills! All I‘ve got is a good shrug as my answer to my boyfriend when he asks why 😅🤷🏼‍♀️ (edited) 11mo
CoffeeNBooks @Stephuhhnieee 😂 1) I have to read it right now and it's not available at the library. 2) It's for a buddy read and I want to be able to write in it so I can remember everything I want to discuss. 3) It's only $___ on Thriftbooks, and it might not always be that price. 4) I got it at Goodwill. 5) I'm going to donate it to my classroom library when I'm done reading it. (This one is always a winner, lol!) 🤣 11mo
24 likes9 comments
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suzisteffen
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Went to pick up my books on hold at the library. I‘d already gotten two as ebooks, so this was what was left! A bit intimidated but ready to go. First up will probably be Daniel Ortberg‘s The Merry Spinster.

RaimeyGallant So tall! 11mo
suzisteffen @RaimeyGallant It was a challenge to carry them all! LOL. 📚🤓📚📚📚📚 11mo
11 likes2 comments
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Zelma
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Bailedbailed

My 2019 reading is not starting out well. I was so excited about these dark fairytale retellings, but they fell completely flat for me. They were dark enough but the prose wasn‘t lyrical enough for my taste (it just felt monotone) and I didn‘t really get the point of most of the stories. It was definitely a case of “it‘s me, not the book” but still. Moving on. Gorgeous cover though.

CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian I felt very similarly about this one! 11mo
Lchnessmnstr I don‘t think it was you... the second story made no sense to me. May bail soon 11mo
41 likes2 stack adds2 comments
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zembla
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(https://twitter.com/danielortberg/status/1072257848136978435)

Sure, it seems obvious when you put it THAT way 😂

Daniel Ortberg transitioned this year (good interview: https://www.thecut.com/2018/03/daniel-mallory-ortberg-interview-heather-havriles...), and I loved this exchange.

I had a similar weird feeling about reading a book printed with his deadname, so I'm glad he clarified, and also this just cracked me up. #queerbooks #transbooks

Caterina Thanks for posting this! I just started reading this book and didn't know. Those tweets are perfect. 😂😂 6mo
9 likes1 comment
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kyraleseberg
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Pickpick

A quick Halloween read of short stories drawing on the darker side of classic fairy tales/children's stories, including The Little Mermaid, The Goose Girl, The Wind in the Willows, and the creepiest of all: The Velveteen Rabbit, which I will never look at the same way again 😱

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CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian
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Bailedbailed

The first story in this collection was fine, but it didn't really grab me. I also have a feeling that Ortberg's clever-for-the-sake-of-being-clever style would grate on me if I read more than one story at a time. This is due back at the library soon anyway, so bail!

WhatDeeReads I bailed on this too. I thought I was down for the weird, but I don‘t think I was actually. 14mo
Beachesnbooks I love weird books and I loved the Toast, but I really didn‘t like any of these stories. 14mo
CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian @WhatDeeReads I usually love weird, but for whatever reason this just didn't interest me? But I don't think it was because it was too weird. 14mo
CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian @Beachesnbooks I didn't read a lot of The Toast, but I did enjoy what I read. And I love weird books too. Hmm, it's hard to say what went wrong with this book. 14mo
41 likes2 stack adds4 comments
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Well-ReadNeck
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I loved these creepy stories. Great to see this seasonal appropriate book on sale!!!!

Broke_Girl_Reads Hey @SkeletonKey here‘s a horror collection for you, and it‘s on sale! Daniel Ortberg is trans and queer, though not a POC 14mo
SkeletonKey @Broke_Girl_Reads - Cool, I didn‘t know that! I had this out from the library but didn‘t get to it, I‘ll check it out again. 14mo
74 likes2 comments
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shaynarae
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Pickpick

Ortberg managed to make the darkness of fairy tales even darker in these retellings. Not all of the stories were winners, but overall I really liked this collection a lot. 👻🏰🖤 #booktober

Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks Pretty 🧡🧡 1y
19 likes1 stack add1 comment
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unabridgedchick
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Finally assembled my Readers Imbibing Peril TBR! Creepy, scary, and chilling, whoo hoo!

6 likes1 stack add
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Lindy
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Pickpick

❤️ ! Clever, dark and so much fun. I shivered, chuckled and guffawed through this witty collection of short stories that mash together traditional tales as far ranging as the Grimm brothers, the Old Testament, Scottish ballads, and modern children‘s classics like The Wind in the Willows and Frog and Toad. Once I got going, I didn‘t want to stop. Delightfully weird.

43 likes2 stack adds
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Lindy
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“She came back to ask me to return her comb, which I had under my pillow & which I could not give her. For if she does not marry me, I shall die & I wish to be buried with it. Then she asked, if I would not return the comb, if I would not change my mind & live with her under the sea & I told her I could not, but begged her to visit my grave when I perished from the wanting of her.”
“You two are never at a loss for conversation, at least,” I said.

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Lindy
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The Wedding Party, in this collection, draws on a couple of tales I wasn‘t familiar with—The Earl of Mar‘s Daughter, & the Scottish ballad The Daemon Lover—as well as one I know well: The Goose Girl. It‘s also the only story that could be classified as contemporary realism. I found it unsettling & puzzling, so I reread it after reading the two traditional stories that I didn‘t know. Better. Still unsettling, but that‘s the intent.

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Lindy
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The frog looked like a calf‘s heart with a mouth slit across it.

(Internet photo)

25 likes1 stack add
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Lindy
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A rich executive had three children; she had other things besides, but for the purposes of this story, we will not concern ourselves with the rest of her inventory.

50 likes1 stack add
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Lindy
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“There was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid. Later, he was something other than splendid, but this was the beginning, and splendid will do for a start.”
—The Rabbit

This is such a creepy toy story. I will not be able to go back to Margery Williams‘ original version without thinking of Ortberg‘s retelling. (Shudder.)

Mandigolightly I read that collection, and really enjoyed that story. I wish the other selections were as solid 1y
Lindy @Mandigolightly I‘ve read six so far, and each one tickles my delight. 1y
47 likes1 stack add2 comments
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Lindy
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The witch looked the girl up & down with a critical eye. (You know by now, I think, that the witch had no eyes & I need not explain every little difference to you, but bear in mind that even if someone is merely in possession of a clot of photosensitive cells & a rudimentary sort of lens that is only dimly aware when a shadow passes overhead, they might be just as proud of that clot of cells & that rudimentary lens as you are of your own 2 eyes.)

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Lindy
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I‘ve been putting this one off because of the word horror on the cover—I‘m fussy about what I like in that genre—and because of the scary mermaid/sheela-na-gig creature on the cover. Read the first story, a riff on The Little Mermaid, and I am HOOKED!

54 likes4 stack adds
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Ashley_Nicoletto
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Instead, she read books, which did her no good whatever. She was twenty-eight and mostly useless.

🤣🤣🤣

Dying. If you could sum my life up in one sentence and add a few years of age.

monalyisha Right there with you, sister. 😂 1y
60 likes2 comments
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Ashley_Nicoletto
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It's 6:45 PM.

🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️

batsy 🐶❤️ 1y
83 likes1 stack add1 comment
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bookishlyblessed
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After a long day I've decided to pick up this short story collection.

16 likes1 stack add
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MelodySchreiber
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Also this is definitely the funniest line in the book.

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MelodySchreiber
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Pickpick

This book is a master class in allegory and allusion. I'm sure I missed so much, but I found it charming and thought-provoking anyway.

7 likes1 stack add
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MelodySchreiber
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I do not fully understand these stories, but they tear at my heart nonetheless.

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Rissa1
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Panpan

I have finished but this is not for me. I only like a few of the 11 stories.

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Rissa1
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#24in48 supplies.

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Rissa1
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Next on the #24in48 journey. Can't hit the 24 hours that I was hoping but I am going to keep reading anyway.

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melrailey
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Having a hard time deciding what to read so I‘m reading short stories and graphic novels til I decide.

95 likes1 stack add
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24in48
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We‘re back with more recs for your Thursday & #readathon stacks! At #24in48 HQ, we 💜 Gabrielle Union‘s memoir vignettes & Daniel Mallory Ortberg‘s horror fairytale retellings. You can‘t go wrong with either!
[Description: 2 books resting on a stone shelf that borders a dirt patch. The Merry Spinster has a blue cover featuring a black silhouette of a siren, and We‘re Going To Need More Wine features a photo of actor/model Gabrielle Union sitting).

67 likes1 stack add
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amb
Mehso-so

I listen to a lot of book podcasts, outside of Litsy, it's where I hear about new books. This one has been talked up on multiple about being so creepy and weird. I like weird, I like creepy. It's a retelling of a few fairy tales and fables with a lean towards twisting them. I wanted to love it, but I didn't feel creeped out at all. I may have a tolerance level for these types of things that is inappropriately high. Not for me.

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Preciouz29
Mehso-so

So did not understand the stories; maybe I‘m not feminist enough? I kinda got the stories, but they just didn‘t...I just didn‘t get the stories.

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dreabooksit
Panpan

I really wanred to like this book. I don't know if it was the short story format or just me but it was hard to get into. I enjoyed the gender bending and the Velveteen Rabbit retelling was deliciously horrific but nothing else really stood out for me

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khooliha
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Pickpick

I enjoyed all of these stories, but the 3 most about toxic friendships -really- hit me.

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ReadingsByTheC
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Bailedbailed

I usually love fairy tales, retellings, and reboots but this collection is just off to me. I found them generally confusing and they felt a little unfinished. Maybe I'm not hip enough to get it.

30 likes1 stack add
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Skyrimir
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Anyone else have trouble with this one? I was really excited about it, but I just could not get into the stories. I love weird/dark retellings, but I had to bail on this set.

Beachesnbooks Same!! I thought I was the only one. I love dark fairytale retellings too and I've enjoyed Ortberg before. This one was a disappointment though ☹️ 1y
13 likes1 comment
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amma-keep-reading
Mehso-so

Meh. I'll admit these were an interesting twist on some classic fairy tales and myths but the overall effect was 'meh'. I'm disappointed because I really enjoyed the author's first book.

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khooliha
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One story in and I'm really enjoying this book that is So Obviously up my alley. I am sad that they were all printed with Daniel Ortberg's deadname, though.

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danimgill
Mehso-so

The concept of this short story collection checks a lot of boxes for me (namely the dark and creepy feminist-leaning fairytale retelling boxes) but the execution was a bit underwhelming. Some of the fairy tales chosen were too obscure for me to “get” the twist in the retelling and some of the stories felt cut off too soon. But the actual writing on all of them is wonderful, Ortberg really has a way with a turn of phrase.