“Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales” edited by Melissa Marr & Tim Pratt [Part III]


Unfortunately, I am writing this review/these impressions without the copy of Rags & Bones that I was reading. I had to give it back. And because I got a little busy in between finishing the book and writing this up, these reviews are quite … minimalistic. I hope you can forgive me!

The Soul Collector by Kami Garcia
One of my favourite things is when magic is placed into some of the worst places in our world. Gritty magic. Urban, I suppose is the wanky term. But this kind of magic lends a sense of hope and wonder into situations that are completely devoid of both.
This story follows a woman who worked her way from a dodgy foster home into the police force. She then is tasked to go undercover into her old neighbourhood and has to “prove her worth” by killing people for the crime boss. but she can’t do it. Instead this…man does it for her. You can probably guess what his price was by the name of this story.
I’m a massive Supernatural fan, even though I don’t really talk about it on here. So all I could think was “is this the story that created the amazing character of Crowley?”. It was like an origin story, or a prequel of sorts. I loved it.
This story had a wonderful romance, a twist ending, and flawed characters. God, I love me some flawed characters. This is a definite must read.

Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy by Saladin Ahmed
This story was off-putting. I think it was supposed to be this way. There’s repetition and verbose language that sets an unsettling scene. I often found this story hard to follow, but this was the fault of the unreliable narrator, not Ahmed. This story felt like a remix of an original story more so than a retelling. It felt like the folk stories of old, rather than a modernisation. This could also be why I felt so wrong-footed. Other stories in this collection have been set in the past but the language was modern. Not this story. This was archaic, and in the most delightful way possible.

Uncaged by Gene Wolf
Unfortunately, in short story collections, there is always one story that is weaker than the others. Uncaged is that story. The story was simply all over the place. One minute I was on a ship, then I was in Africa three weeks prior to the ship’s passage, then I was in the narrator’s house months after the voyage. Then there was the character of Marthe, who became Kay with no warning, and she became the narrator’s wife seemingly seconds after being made a widow in Africa. Marthe/Kay’s dialogical voice changed dramatically from the beginning of the story to the middle. I was never sure where I was, who was with me, or what was actually happening. And that’s bad for a story that’s as complicated as this. I loved the concept, but the story kept jumping in such a way that I could not keep the plot straight in my head. This was an unfortunate way to end this wonderful collection.

Illustrations by Charles Vess
I feel absolutely awful that I have not mentioned the beautiful illustrations that appeared sporadically throughout this collection. Vess gave us beautiful artwork coupled with a page long explanation of the story that inspired the art and why that story is important. Unfortunately, I no longer have the book in my possession, so I can’t show you examples. I mean, I could. I could Google the images and put them up here, but it’s not the same. To me, these pages belong on paper, not a screen. But feel free to Google them yourself. These pictures are splendid.


About Bec Graham

Bec Graham, 24, was born on the wrong continent. Everything from her burns-like-paper skin tone to her inability to cope with the slightest hint of a hot day suggests she should have been born under the gloomy skies and mild sun of the UK. She hopes writing will get her to her rightful home one day. Failing that, she scans the skies for a spinning blue police box, hoping to catch a lift back to the motherland.
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