True to the title, these short stories are dark. Don’t go into it expecting warm fuzzies and happy endings, because they don’t exist. That didn’t make them unlikable, though! These stories are full of myths, magic and a lot of imagination.
What I love about collections of short stories is that it gives me an opportunity to read several different authors and the ability to learn their style before reading a whole novel. That doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t check out an author if I didn’t *love* their short story, because I realize that they’re totally different ballgames, but it’s a nice sampling and an introduction to their work. I can guarantee that I will be checking out several of the authors that participated in this dark anthology.
Because anthologies are a little hard to rate as a whole, so I’m going to break it down by each story.
As Blue as the Sky and Just as Old by Nina Berry
I wasn’t familiar with the nursery rhyme that went along with this one, but it was an interesting take on it, anyway. I felt a little lost at first but had a handle on it by the end, and Nina Berry did a good job of explaining the background of her story as it went along.
Sing a Song of Six-Pence by Sarwat Chadda
This was an interesting take on the nursery rhyme. I didn’t fully enjoy it, not because the idea behind it was bad, but I just didn’t connect with it, and had a hard time believing it.
Clockwork by Leah Cypress
I enjoyed this one for the most part, I was able to connect the story to the rhyme and the story itself was intense and interesting. But I didn’t really *get* the ending, it was too abrupt and I didn’t come to the same conclusion as the main character.
Blue by Sayantani DasGupta
Unfortunately, I was quite lost through most of this short story. It had the potential to be good, but just didn’t quite do it for me.
Pieces of Eight by Shannon Delany with Max Scialdone
This one captivated my interest right away, and I really liked it. There was a puzzle, clues and a mystery, and the characters were likeable, I found myself rooting for them!
Wee Willie Winkie by Leigh Fallon
Two words: extremely creepy. The set-up was fantastic, starting off so normally that I had no idea what sort of twist this would have on the nursery rhyme. It really had my heart pumping and mind racing towards the end.
Boys and Girls Come Out to Play by Angie Frazier
I am not really familiar with the original rhyme, but the story drew me in anyway. It was filled with magic and just enough eeriness to keep me wondering until the end.
I Come Bearing Souls by Jessie Harrell
I could not figure out the connection between this story and the rhyme (Hey Diddle, Diddle). I thought it was a bit over the top and I honestly had no idea what was going on most of the time.
The Lion and the Unicorn: Part the First by Nancy Holder
Yet another rhyme that I’d never heard of, but the story itself was good. I had it figured out part-way through the story, but it was like a horror movie where you just have to keep going to find out if it ends the way you think it does.
Life in a Shoe by Heidi R. Kling
I didn’t quite find the dystopian world believable, but I did feel a connection with the main character and her terrible situation. It’s a favorite nursery rhyme of mine, so I liked reading an author’s interpretation of it.
Candlelight by Suzanne Lazear
At first it was a little hard to connect with the main characters, who were whining about their mother taking away privileges (aka parenting), but once I realized what was about to happen, I was all over it. Babylon was too idyllic, I would have loved to see some darkness over these children’s fantasy playtime.
One for Sorrow by Karen Mahoney
This was a gripping, dark love story…I enjoyed it through to the end. The only thing I didn’t like was that I felt the ending didn’t really make sense. Maybe it was just too rushed so I missed the clue that would enable that ending to happen.
Those Who Whisper by Lisa Mantchev
I was grabbed from the very first sentence of this one – my heart was broken for the little girl in the story. But she managed to find her way and I liked the interaction with animals (a la Cinderella) that she had.
Little Miss Muffet by Georgia McBride
I found this story to be a bit weird. I liked the main character but didn’t fully connect with the plot.
Sea of Dew (short version) by C. Lee McKenzie
I loved this short story! It sort of reminded me of reading The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan, except way better. The main concept of the nursery rhyme is visible, but with a unique take on it. I was holding out hope for these characters, but with the nature of this collection, there was no hope to be had. I would have loved to get to read the extended version of this story, but unfortunately it was not included in the review copy.
Tick Tock by Gretchen McNeil
It was like a scene straight out of a horror movie. I thought it was a little bit predictable in places, but a really great read overall.
A Pocket Full of Posy by Pamela van Hylckama Vlieg
I actually liked this one all the way until the end, where I think it just ended a bit silly. I thought I had it all figured out and I was very off base. Some elements were a little hard to believe as well.
The Well by K.M. Walton
Probably one of the most well-known nursery rhymes out there, and the story that was concocted to go along with it just kept throwing twists and turns out. I really, really liked it.
The Wish by Suzanne Young
Amongst all of these dark tales, this one was one of the more romantic ones. I knew right off the bat how it would end, but I couldn’t help but be caught up in the connection between these two young kids.
A Ribbon of Blue by Michelle Zink
I’m pretty sure this was my favorite of the whole collection! Again, I wasn’t familiar with the original rhyme, but the setting of a carnival and the way the author let the story slowly progress was perfect.