I haven’t had the best of experiences when it comes to short story anthologies, mostly because I was always forcing myself to get through it. As much as I couldn’t wait to read “Rags and Bones” a part of me was afraid at the same time of what kind of reading experience I would have. I am very happy to say that I enjoyed “Rags and Bones” more than I thought I would, and felt I learned something new while revisiting several very talented writers.
I didn’t love every single story in the collection – “Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy” was my least favourite, while a couple others like “Sirocco” and “Uncaged” I just wasn’t huge fans of – but that’s always to be expected from a collection, I think. If I had to choose a favourite it would be “When First We Were Gods”, which was the longest story in the anthology, but in my opinion the most powerful as after finishing it I felt truly moved. But in the others I could find something just as interesting that made me enjoy the story, such as the very memorable “Losing Her Divinity”, where the unique narrative was a delight in itself and made the story interesting to read and the words rolled off the page effortlessly. Others, like “Awakened”, though exploring a very familiar territory, added a nice twist by showing a different side to the story, a logic to what one would consider to be the villain, the one who is trapping the heroine.
I thought overall the stories all worked very well together and added some lovely new material to the fairytale genre. The only downside was a personal one, the fact that I didn’t know many of the stories. I think though that the authors might’ve been going for that, choosing stories that, unlike Neil Gaiman’s choice to reimagine Sleeping Beauty, would make the reader go looking for the original after they finished reader, which in itself is a very admirable goal and one I agree with. So it worked both ways in that regard. The stories were dark but they were also emotional and did offer some light and some kind of sympathy, albeit in some unusual and rather twisted ways. I’m glad I ended up giving this one a chance.