The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror
"The Goose-Girl" by the Grimms
"The Earl of…moreThe author helpfully listed their sources and influences at the back of the book. For "The Wedding Party":
"The Goose-Girl" by the Grimms
"The Earl of Mar's Daughter," a child's ballad
"The Daemon Lover," a Scottish ballad
As with many other short story collections, like Machado's Her Body and Other Parties, The Merry Spinster is a mixed bag. With this one, though, I'm leaning more towards declaring it a negative reading experience. There were just too many nonsensical things, too many abrupt and weird endings, too many stor ...more
I was really looking forward to this collection of fairy tale retellings, but it proved to be a something of a let down. Ortberg's versions are somber and bleak, but really no darker than the original stories. Perhaps going grimmer wa ...more
I loved these!
Hilarious and disturbing retellings of your childhood favorites. Sharp, insightful and feminist, they may ruin forever the way you look at these stories.
Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of the book.
I don't mean to be unnecessarily cruel in my review, and the writing itself is superb. That is, how one word meets the next; how metaphors fly out like gnats, biting and surprising you; how carefully each story is composed; and even, how repetition of phrases create a sort of innate rhythm to each tale. Yep, this writer can write.
But the stories are obtuse, stra ...more
Actual Rating 2.5
You should be a fan of the Grimm' Fairy Tales, in order to appreciate these short stories. I am really familiar with Disney's feel good fairy tales but didn't feel familiar enough with the source material to appreciate the adaptions. These horrific short stories pay homage to their original sources while adding elements of horror and surprise. The characters don't behave according to established gender norms although most of the stories ...more
This book tho... I don't know. It is incredibly well done, but that is not at all the same as saying I enjoyed it.
Each tale starts out familiar, like a song you love redone in a minor key — the mermaid who trades her voice for legs, the king who banishes his sons, the put-upon stepsister who goes to live with a beast-creature — but quickly they twist and wrench. Each unfurls with a sickly sweet beauty and a pitch-perfect fa ...more
“Tales of Everyday Horror”? Not a great tagline, these are dark retellings of fairytales and children’s stories, not ‘everyday’ situations. There is not much that’s ‘everyday’ about a mermaid trying to snag a prince, or a murderous velveteen rabbit.
Title aside, I mostly enjoyed this collection. The best stories are frontloaded, so it kind of wears out its welcome by the end, but it ...more
I'm officially tired of reading retelling anthologies. They get odder and weirder and more befuddling with each story and by the time I'm done I feel like banging my head against a wall.
I understand that part of it has to do with the fact that I have no ducking clue about the original stories themselves, most of the stories the writers pick to retell are not the usual disney ones. But then, how the heck am I supposed to get what part was retold and how cleverly it was done? A short summary of th...more
These stories are weird and queer and horrifying and are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but if you like Mallory’s writing especially her “children’s stories made horrifying” you won’t be disappointed. Also The Rabbit is going to haunt me forever.
The main reason I would love a hard copy of this book and perceive it as a valuable read is I like that this book changes my perspective on classic stories. I will never think of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and the other classic stories t ...more
Many thanks go to Mallory Ortberg, Holt Paperback, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.
I admit it. I have a soft spot for fairy tale retellings. Ortberg was definitely original here. She melded two or more tales, nursery rhymes, prayers, and ballads to create one-of-a-kind stories with a cynical twist. If anyone has difficulty identifying what's being used, there is a table at the end. I think my favorite was "The Wedding Party", which re ...more
2- The Thankless Child (3/5): A weird Cinderella iteration but the ending was quite strange and... abrupt almost? Also the gender identifications and names and pronouns are really weird in this story.
3- Fear Not: An Incident Log (4.5/5): I kept thinking what fairytale or story this would be the iteration for but I gave up. Anyhow, I ...more
Ortberg is a master of language and it shines here. His wit is subtle, but biting, and each story quickly comes into focus with a clear tone and setting, in a way that many short stories authors strug ...more
That being said... auuugh. I love Ortberg turning fairy tales on their heads. I love the playing with gender and history and narrative and...everything he's doing. Still, my personal reading e ...more
Mallory Ortberg’s short story collection focuses on the fairy tales of the past or beloved children stories and twists them into horrifying and shocking heights. I will admit not all the stories in this collection are perfect, but I can’t remember the last time I read so many 5-star short stories in a collection. Ortberg is skilled at telling the story in a way familiar to the reader and then leaving the story with a mouth...more
Maybe three stories in this ("The Rabbit", "Six Boy Coffins", and "Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters"), were readable and had some semblance of plot (thought they were not satisfying plots).
Others, such as "Th ...more
I am a huge fan of a retelling. So, seeing this collection of retellings of fairy tales, folk tales and other well-known/traditional stories available for request on NetGalley had me super interested. Needless to say, I was psyched when I got chosen and sent the ARC. I was a little nervous starting to read, because “everyday horror” could mean a lot of things (I totally overlooked that subtitle when originally reques ...more
The Merry Spinster meets us somewhere in the middle with 11 twisted versions of well known fables and fairy tales that are somehow as playful as they are sin ...more
If you don't already know Ortberg, well, this is a book that's going to defy your expectations at every turn. It tweaks tropes and genders and just about everything else over and over again, slowly lulling you into a glorious openness.
This was a really great book of fairytale retellings. I like how she often took inspiration from more than one story at a time [all the source stories are listed at the end of the book] instead of just doing a straight retelling but with dark elements added. It definitely helped keep my interest because I didn't always know where the story was going, which I find is the problem with a lot of fairytale retellings these days. These are definitely d ...more
This is also well written. But I didn't really get this book. I guess it's a take on some fairytales. I must not know them as well as I think I do; or maybe I do, and just didn't find these to be very interesting or clever takes on said fairytales.
Either way, I bet DMO is one of the coolest people to hang out with. I just don ...more
There is also an interesting element in several of the stories, where gender versus social role is upturned a bit. This is never really explained, but it's made somewhat clear in the first to use this, a Cinderella based story, when the step sisters are discussing whether they will b ...more