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A Cathedral of Myth and Bone

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  165 ratings  ·  41 reviews
In these sixteen exquisite stories Kat Howard deftly weaves in and out of the countries of myth and hagiography to write the lives of women untold and unexplored.

A woman being written into her boyfriend’s fiction is at first flattered to be his muse, but then finds her real life literally consumed and overtaken by his. A desperate young woman makes a prayer to the Saint of
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 8th 2019 by Saga Press
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3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  165 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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Marija (Inside My Library Mind)
More reviews up on my blog Inside My Library Mind

“The story knows the way of its telling.”

As a Whole...
All of these stories revolve around myths and legends and thus have a common theme of storytelling interwoven throughout all of them. Every story is set in our world, but not quite. It’s our world but deconstructed and mixed with symbols and aspects of different stories.

There’s also a common theme of a story being retold through time – always being the same, but also always changing
Feb 24, 2019 rated it did not like it
Be skeptical when a writer writers her own introduction to her short stories, especially when she uses the word "hagiography" in it and its last sentences are "Turn the page. I have miracles to offer you." I was skeptical, and for good reason. I was really shocked at the praises sung of this pretentious metafictive collection of short stories that explore faith and myth. I was alternately bored and annoyed with all of them. I'll just mention the opening story as an example. In "A Life in Fiction ...more
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love Kat Howard's short stories, so of course I also love this collection. I'd read many of the stories before, but a stand out new one for me was Once, Future, and Authurian retelling set on a modern college campus. It's so excellent. And then a favorite of mine that I'd already read is The Saint of the Sidewalks. I actually enjoyed it even more this time than the first.

Kat Howard's stories are steeped in Catholicism, fairy tales, and female empowerment. You can tell she treats each story wit
Jackie Cowgill
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
I had a difficult time deciding between 3 and 4 stars. I chose 4 because ultimately the great stories in this anthology outweighed the not so good. And none of the stories were bad, but I just didn't understand some of them because they were so unique and out there. Also, a few were good stories, but the subject matter wasnt interesting to me. For example, the main novella was about Camelot, which I have never been very interested in.

I really loved the prose and magical imagery in these short st
Mike Chen
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Kat Howard has constantly shown that she can ground fantastical elements in contemporary storytelling. This, along with wonderful prose and sharp characterization, is why her novels ROSES AND ROT and AN UNKINDNESS OF MAGICIANS work so well -- they blend those elements together without ever collapsing under the weight of either side. A CATHEDRAL OF MYTH AND BONE is a collection of stories -- myth retellings, essentially -- that follow suit. Most of these were previously published, but the biggest ...more
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This fascinating and varied collection of short stories (and in one case a series of vignettes that form a novelette) by Kat Howard is actually the first time I've read a good bit of this author's work. Many of these tales are memorable re-envisionings of stories from literature or history, such as Arthurian legends (what's in a name?) or a modern Joan of Arc (looking for miracles in an urban setting, with the aid of Chanel Vamp and the back of a Stoli box). While I felt varying levels of engage ...more
Mar 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, short-stories
This could have been a 4 stars collection but for some reason I hit a wall with it and it took me weeks to feel like coming back to it. Something along the way made me lose interest, but I can't say what--it might not have been the book itself. I'm also realising that I dislike novellas/novelettes in my short stories collections. To me, they cut the flow. I skipped both of them, though I know I'll come back later to read them. I did love several of the stories, especially the ones about saints.

Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Favorite stories:
Maiden, Hunter, Beast
Once, Future
Saints' Tide
Painted Birds and Shivered Bones
The Calendar of Saints
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

My favorite stories were probably A Life in Fictions, Saints' Tide, and The Saint of the Sidewalk.
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Thank you to Edelweiss and Saga Press for providing this DRC in exchange for an honest review)

One of my new favorite books, and certainly my favorite short story collection to date! I would recommend this to literally everyone, but especially those that understand that fairy tales, legends, and myths deserve to be told not just for their magic, but for what they reveal in our individual realities.

Here are my ratings for the individual stories (*** marks my favorite ones, yes there are four, you
Brendan Anderson
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book off a shelf because I was intrigued by the title. I flipped to the first story, read the first line ("He wrote me into a story again"), and then stood rooted in the bookstore aisle until I'd finished. I bought the book thinking that one story alone was worth the price and was not disappointed to find the other fictions contained just as much heart, just as much brilliance, just as much potential to make fantasy real. "A Life in Fictions," that first story, is a masterpiece, bu ...more
Feb 12, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this, and I think Howard did some fun things with retellings, but overall it was a fairly one note collection. No complaints, but I won't be thinking about these stories three weeks from now.
Jill Furedy
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
The first few stories in this book grabbed me right away. The first was about a women who disappeared into the stories her boyfriend wrote whenever he used her for inspiration. The second was a woman who asks the Saint of the Sidewalk for a miracle and gets more than she bargained for, while we learn about these everyday saints. This story sets the tone for the book, as we encounter more saints and religious ritual in many other stories...which makes sense given the title. Then comes Maiden, Hun ...more
K Gover
Mar 07, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathy Rutz
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Short stories are not usually my first choice, but many of these ring like bells -- big bells, with both bass notes and silver cling-clinging that I still hear days after I closed the book. Kat leaves quiet gifts in the pages too: little coins, little crumbs to follow, like little messages written with a fountain pen on a torn piece of paper, dropped. One of these had me sending text messages at 12:30 AM, wondering if what I suspected was true.

Kat Howard is about the business of the numinous an
Tim Hicks
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Just not to my taste, not at all.

Well, OK, I liked the Saint of Sidewalks a bit.

The intro felt pretentious to me, and as it turned out so did the stories. As if KH was trying so hard to craft Exquisite Stories that she lost sight of the "Tell Me A Story" aspect. Things happened not because they HAD to happen in the circumstances, but because they added a "hey, watch this bit of writing!"

I especially disliked the long yet-another-take-on-the-King-Arthur-theme, of which we have surely seen enou
Short Review

Short story collections are always hard to review because the quality of stories differs. I gave this four stars because I loved "Once, Future" and "Breaking the Frame." All the other stories are good. They're well written, but felt like they jumped around a lot. Sometimes they worked for me, other times not so much. However, I do like Kat Howard as a writer. I think her later work speaks for herself, and a lot of these stories are earlier work of hers (the collection spans seven plu
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
The novella "Once, Future" where the story of King Arthur plays out on a college campus is probably my favorite piece in this collection.

On the while, I found the collection to be a bit of a mixed bag. I think in general I probably like Kat Howard's longer works more than her short stories. I found her novels "Roses and Rot" and "An Unkindness of Magicians" (published elsewhere -- not in this collection) to be quite engaging. But I liked some of the short stories and found "All Our Past Places"
Feb 03, 2019 rated it liked it
A number of these stories were excellent, and I enjoyed the themes of location (the cathedrals of the title crop up regularly), myth, feminism and the thin line between reality and fantasy. Unfortunately, the story I enjoyed the least was the longest (by far), dominating the book and therefore my enjoyment of it. It felt rushed and superficially explored, and without it, I would have rated the collection higher. Still a very solid read, and one I would recommend.
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5. “Once, Future” is damn good and gets 5 stars, easily. I also really enjoyed all the stories that incorporated saints, and I very much appreciated the active conversation about and with the nature of fairy tales and stories. It’s just that at the end of most of the stories, I felt a little let down, as if something interesting had been half-formed and then abandoned. She’s a beautiful writer, though, and I love where her head’s at.
Bryan Miller
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a brutal, unsettling, and poignantly mythic collection of stories. Personal faves include “Translatio Corporis” as well as “Dreaming Like a Ghost” and “Returned”. So damn good. If you’re a fan of Neil Gaiman or Aimee Bender—and always imagined what some mix between the two might look like—this collection is for you.
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A haunting and gorgeous collection of short stories threaded together with the quiet opulence of a stained glass window. Howard's beautiful prose brings together fragile bones, feathered pages, and heartsick saints. It's worth mentioning that Once, Future is my favorite King Arthur story since The Once and Future King-it's that unbelievably good.
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
These stories were incredible; I love the imagery and the descriptive language and the glimpses into folklore. Each story is evocative and I am amazed by how well the traditional fantasy and fairy tale elements intertwine with descriptions of contemporary society. I especially loved Dreaming Like a Ghost, Returned, and Maiden, Hunter, Beast.
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Some of the short stories in this book are fantastic. The novella update of the King Arthur story was lovely and dreamy. As sometimes happen in short story collections, the strongest stories were clustered in the front, and then some of the later stories seem almost unfinished. But they are all worth reading! For adults or older teens.
Hillary Smith
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am completely and totally in awe of this new collection of short stories. These tales are as dark and beautiful as the myths and fables they are based on, but somehow they seem impossibly richer. Howard has breathed new life and modernity into everything from Greek mythology to the tales of Camelot. Impeccably executed and perfect for fans of fairy tales, myths and magic!
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really love Kat Howard's work and whatever fantasies and fairy tales fed me as a child clearly nurtured her as well because her writing really speaks to me.
Once, Future was, ugh, such a good gut-punch.
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Short stories aren’t usually my thing, but these have a completeness about them that’s satisfying. I loved the undercurrent of saints lives and references to myths, plus the centering of female protagonists taking agency over their stories.
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Pub date: Oct 2018
Wow! I am not usually a short story person, but this was chockablock full of wonderful and terrifying woman-centric magic and modern mythology. Most of the stories I loved (especially "Once, Future"), just one I thought was just ok, but all haunted me and left me wanting more. With Ms Howard's fabulous writing, I would recommend this book for everyone.
While I didn't love all of these stories, the ones I did love were fantastic. The writing is lyrical, and although the stories are mainly based on mythology, they're quite unique in their delivery.
Katharine Rudzitis
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
On the list of books I wish I had written. What a wide ranging collection of stories! I loved all of them.
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Kat Howard lives in New Hampshire. Her short fiction has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, anthologized in year's best and best of collections, and performed on NPR. Roses and Rot is her debut novel. You can find her on twitter at @KatWithSword.

Also, Shane Leonard took her photo, and she's super grateful.