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A Cathedral of Myth and Bone

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3.97  ·  Rating details ·  434 ratings  ·  101 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
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Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 8th 2019 by Saga Press
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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Alison
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 STARS
This quickly became one of my favorite short story collections with it's dark atmosphere and poetic nature. I loved the dark and modern twists on stories we've seen before in history and fairytales. I was in awe of Kat Howard's writing style and she has quickly become one of my favorites.
Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
This collection is incredible. Inspired by myth and fairytales and often focusing on women who redefine their tales, I haven’t read something this beautiful since Angela Carter’s collection THE BLOODY CHAMBER. It reminds me why I love short stories. Each one here was perfect; I never skipped any of them, and they were always a length that meant I stayed engaged.

The very final line - “The tree is split, and she stepping out of it” - is very clever, I feel. It summarises the whole collection. The
...more
Madi
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My first book of the year a five star? Love that for me.
Marija (Inside My Library Mind)
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves
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
...more
Alan
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Erinyes and Maenads
Recommended to Alan by: MCL
Turn the page. I have miracles to offer you.
—Introduction, p.xi
I don't often say this, but... you can probably skip the Introduction of A Cathedral of Myth and Bone, at least if you find that concluding sentence as pretentious as I did.

However, the stories are a different matter—the 16 tales collected in Kat Howard's A Cathedral of Myth and Bone are diverse, deliciously off-kilter and delightfully written, whether she's reimagining Camelot on a college campus (in the novella "Once, Future") or p
...more
Kelly
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
Kelsey
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-releases
This was actually pretty close to 5 stars for me, but not quite. All of my top favorites are actually available to read online, so I recommend:

"The Saint of the Sidewalks": http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/howar...
"Translatio Corporis": https://uncannymagazine.com/article/t...
"All of Our Past Places": http://www.unlikely-story.com/stories...
"Painted Birds and Shivered Bones": https://subterraneanpress.com/magazin...
...more
gio
Mar 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-releases
“The tree is split, and she is stepping out of it”

A Cathedral of Myth and Bone is a collection of short stories that deal with faith and spirituality, myth and legend and women reclaiming agency or carving their own path. Most of these are quite short (besides Once, Future and Painted Birds and Shivered Stones, respectively 100+ and 30~ pages), but they come together coherently to highlight a strong theme, as we see women redefine the same tales they have been trapped by before. In the first sto
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Margaret
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
...more
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
Jenna Meyers
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I love this book. Every single one of the stories within this collection pulls you in and doesn't let go. The stories leave you wanting more but I also think some of their power lies in the format. When I try to pick out my favorites I end up just naming almost all of them. It is a collection I find myself revisiting time and time again.

EDIT: if i had to choose my favorites they would probably be The Saint of the Sidewalks, Translatio Corporis, Murdered Sleep, and Once, Future (of course)
Laura (crofteereader)
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm not generally a fan of fairy tales and their retellings. However, Howard's prose is alluring, enchanting, sometimes harsh. There were times I would pause on a particular image or phrase or line of dialogue and just let it sink in and dissolve. Each of these stories is its own tale of reclamation, of freedom, of magic - but they weave together so brilliantly, twisting each individual narrative into a gleaming whole that leaves you immediately wanting whatever is next. Some of these are a litt ...more
Emmy Neal
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved the breadth of short stories in this collection, but I think my favorite has to be the Arthurian cycle. Kat Howard has an incredibly clever mind, and I'm glad we got to see her flex her skills in these stories.
Christina Pilkington
An interesting collection of stories featuring twisted fairytales and the agency women have in their own lives. I would love to read more of Kat Howard in the future!
Jackie Cowgill (LanternsJourney)
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
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Alecia
Aug 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short story collections are tricky. These are all written beautifully--Kat Howard's prose is gripping and evocative. She's great at setting a mood and a tone in her novels, and that didn't change here. The quality of her writing kept me reading to the end of the book. Unfortunately, this collection just didn't do it for me. Either the stories ended too abruptly, or there wasn't enough substance for me to sink my teeth into.
Marzie
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
saguaros
Mar 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories, 2019
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.

F
...more
Alex
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent collection of dark fantasy. If you want a sample of what this collection has in store for you, two of these stories are available for free over at PodCastle.

http://podcastle.org/2016/04/05/podca...
http://podcastle.org/2013/11/15/podca...

A number of these stories wrestle with faith and spirituality in a manner that feels honest and exploratory, which is a refreshing change from the didacticism we regularly experience with these journeys. I particularly enjoyed “The Calendar o
...more
Melinda Borie
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this because Neil Gaiman complimented the author and he was deeply correct about her. These were stories of women and magic, sometimes with weird religious stuff thrown in that I also liked. I’d read her work again.
Jazmine
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.
Megan
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
Colleen
Mar 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: short story fans
Some of her prose reads like poetry and some of the images described will be sticking with me for quite some time.
DeeDee
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
...more
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
Jessika
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.
Jessie (Zombie_likes_cake)
I don't find a new favorite writer every day, and usually I wait until I have read at least 2 books by that person before I call them favorites, but I think after a short story collection that worked as well for me as "A Cathedral of Myth and Bone" I am allowed to get ahead of myself. Yes, Kat Howard, I will read every book published and even if I would not like the next one I pick up I would just keep on going, that's how outstanding this experience was.

It boils down to the excellent writing an
...more
Michelle Spencer
I really appreciate Kat Howard’s lyrical writing. It makes for a nice smooth read (except for her tendency to put paragraph breaks in a string of dialogue from the same speaker - that threw me off a few times) and worked well for her twists on mythologies and hagiographic tales. I liked the modern twists, too. Myths are among our oldest forms of storytelling, short stories much more recent. It was fun not only blending those two styles, but also the modern elements (loved turning The Green Knigh ...more
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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.

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