The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror

The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror

From Mallory Ortberg comes a collection of darkly mischievous stories based on classic fairy tales. Adapted from her beloved "Children's Stories Made Horrific" series, "The Merry Spinster" takes up the trademark wit that endeared Ortberg to readers of both The Toast and her best-selling debut Texts From Jane Eyre. The feature become among the most popular on the site, with...

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Title:The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror
Author:Mallory Ortberg
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror Reviews

  • ak

    Received an ARC for free blah blah whatever disclosure.

    These stories are weird and queer and horrifying and are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but if you like Mallory’s writing especially her “children’s stories made horrifying” you won’t be disappointed. Also The Rabbit is going to haunt me forever.

  • Charlie Anders

    I blurbed this book, so just to add to what I already said ---- this is really something special, even after the other fairytale retellings I've read lately. I wasn't really prepared for quite how creepy and intense, and endleslsy inventive, this book is. Unsettling and powerful, and it'll totally make you look at the stories that formed us in a whole new way.

  • ❀⊱Rory⊰❀

    4 Stars! Review to follow.

  • Tiffany Huffman (perfictionist.tiff)

    Mallory Ortberg, author of Texts From Jane Eyre, has created another wonderfully unique book. This compilation of short stories retelling a variety of everyone's most beloved fairy and folk tales is not one the reader will soon forget.

    The main reason I would love a hard copy of this book and perceive it as a valuable read is I like that this book changes my perspective on classic stories. I will never think of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and the other classic stories t

    Mallory Ortberg, author of Texts From Jane Eyre, has created another wonderfully unique book. This compilation of short stories retelling a variety of everyone's most beloved fairy and folk tales is not one the reader will soon forget.

    The main reason I would love a hard copy of this book and perceive it as a valuable read is I like that this book changes my perspective on classic stories. I will never think of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and the other classic stories the author reinvents, the same way again. Ortberg gives her horror twist on stories, such as The Velveteen Rabbit, and also includes with that, some gender-neutral characters (The Frog Prince) and feminist scenarios (Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid, The Six Swans, etc.), where the damsel in distress pretty much just kills everyone (not really -- well...).

    If you have a dark sense of humor, you will get a kick out of this book. If you don't (which I don't think I do -- but every avid reader gets used to reading gory and horror scenes, right? Have I become immune?), you'll probably enjoy this because of the different perspective the book provides.

    I can't leave this review without a complaint because I'm sure you're wondering (okay, maybe not, but here I go anyway) why only the four stars? This story sounds amazing, so why isn't it a five-star read? Mallory Ortberg is a terrific writer and I thoroughly enjoyed each short story -- which is why I'm really upset that each story was so short. Some parts lacked enough detail and I had to read it a few times to make sure I understood what was happening. I didn't want each story to end. I think that each story could have been elaborated more and maybe made into a series of short books instead of just compiling them into stories with not enough story. I understand it fits with the theme of keeping them like the children's versions, but still, some parts were left wanting.

    Otherwise, a great read and will recommend this as a fun read.

    I received this as an ARC from NetGalley. Thank you, NetGalley!

  • Oriana

    Oh Mallory, oh

    , oh my goodness gracious how I adore you. This book tho... I don't know. It is incredibly well done, but that is not at all the same as saying I enjoyed it.

    Each tale starts out familiar, like a song you love covered in a minor key — the mermaid who trades her voice for legs, the king who banishes his stepsons, the put-upon stepsister who goes to live with a beast-creature — but quickly they twist and wrench. They unfurl with a sickly sweet beauty and a pitch-perfec

    Oh Mallory, oh

    , oh my goodness gracious how I adore you. This book tho... I don't know. It is incredibly well done, but that is not at all the same as saying I enjoyed it.

    Each tale starts out familiar, like a song you love covered in a minor key — the mermaid who trades her voice for legs, the king who banishes his stepsons, the put-upon stepsister who goes to live with a beast-creature — but quickly they twist and wrench. They unfurl with a sickly sweet beauty and a pitch-perfect fairytale tone, but it's impossible to ignore the oily, crawly dread roiling your stomach as each lurches into a new kind of deeply, deeply disturbing darkness. What terrors will the stuffed rabbit visit upon the sweaty little boy who clutches him too tightly each night? What horrors will the muted, gangly-legged former mermaid cause for the dehumanizing aggro prince and his blushing airhead bride? You want to know, but you also kind of really, really don't.

    I don't know how to rate or really even review a book like this, which is beautiful and strange and horrible horrible horrible. It's hauntingly lovely but oh god, most of the time I hated it. There is only so much darkness I can bear, and this proffers about twice that. So much bloodletting, so much sorrow, so much arch potent destruction, of people and places and love and trust and hope. So much rending of flesh and plucking out of eyes. So much grief and tragedy, so many new kinds of devastation and despair. I could not have been more relieved to be finished with it.

  • Tori (InToriLex)

    Find this and other Reviews at

    You should be a fan of the Grimm' Fairy Tales, in order to appreciate these short stories. I am really familiar with Disney's feel good fairy tales but didn't feel familiar enough with the source material to appreciate the adaptions. These horrific short stories pay homage to their original sources while adding elements of horror and surprise. The characters don't behave according to established gender norms although most of the stories

    Find this and other Reviews at

    You should be a fan of the Grimm' Fairy Tales, in order to appreciate these short stories. I am really familiar with Disney's feel good fairy tales but didn't feel familiar enough with the source material to appreciate the adaptions. These horrific short stories pay homage to their original sources while adding elements of horror and surprise. The characters don't behave according to established gender norms although most of the stories take place in the distant past. I appreciated non gender conforming characters, but found it more confusing than enlightening. There were characters who had names typically associated with one gender, but they were referred to as another. It didn't work well because in the brief stories there was no context to ever address the gender bending elements.

    The stories included surprising twists, villains and humor but none of the elements worked together as enjoyable whole. The writing was engaging but the retelling didn't make sense. The endings of these stories don't give any sort of resolution, but serve as devices to shock the reader. This is the kind of book that will work for fans of horror and original fairy tales, however it didn't resonate well with me.

    -enjoy horror themed fairy tales

    -are fans of Brother Grimm Fairy Tales

    -appreciate non-traditional gender representation

    I received this book from Henry Holt/ Holt Paperbacks in exchange for an honest review.

  • Melki

    I was really looking forward to this collection of fairy tale retellings, but it proved to be a something of a let down. Ortberg's versions are somber and bleak, but really no darker than the original stories. Perhaps going grimmer wa

    I was really looking forward to this collection of fairy tale retellings, but it proved to be a something of a let down. Ortberg's versions are somber and bleak, but really no darker than the original stories. Perhaps going grimmer was never the author's intention, but that

    my expectation, and I was disappointed.

    I liked three of the eleven tales, but all of them are already fading from memory. I thought the first story in the collection,

    , was the best of the lot, but any tale about carnivorous mermaids has the power to turn me into a quivering bowlful of algae. Perhaps the most unusual element to Ortberg's stories was the fluid sexual identities of some of the characters - male princesses, and daughters named Paul.

    There really

    a lot of talent on display here, and in the future, I'd like to read something that is not based on another's ideas, but created solely from the author's imagination

  • Jaksen

    I read the first few, skimmed the rest. I don't get any of it. Seems written by a writer who luxuriates in her own overblown cleverness.

    I don't mean to be unnecessarily cruel in my review, and the writing itself is superb. That is, how one word meets the next; how metaphors fly out like gnats, biting and surprising you; how carefully each story is composed; and even, how repetition of phrases create a sort of innate rhythm to each tale. Yep, this writer can write.

    But the stories are obtuse, stra

    I read the first few, skimmed the rest. I don't get any of it. Seems written by a writer who luxuriates in her own overblown cleverness.

    I don't mean to be unnecessarily cruel in my review, and the writing itself is superb. That is, how one word meets the next; how metaphors fly out like gnats, biting and surprising you; how carefully each story is composed; and even, how repetition of phrases create a sort of innate rhythm to each tale. Yep, this writer can write.

    But the stories are obtuse, strange, contorted - and not in the sense I, a horror and mystery reader - usually like. I must also add I was a great reader of fairy tales in my younger years - up and through my twenties. I read the red, green, blue, etc., fairy tale books and often had to justify borrowing them from the local library. (My mother thought it was nuts I loved these books.)

    But these short tales, obviously the black sheep offshoots of 'regular' folk and fairy tales, are not to my fancy. My mind was everywhere as I read them - I had to concentrate to keep on reading.

    So, two stars, both for skill in the actual writing.

    I won this book through Goodreads, which I fully support and appreciate.

  • Emily May

    There are two really great stories here, a couple of okay ones, many pages of beautiful/whimsical/amusing writing, several interesting ideas, and

    . Let's call it a 2.5.

    As with many other short story collections, like Machado's

    ,

    is a mixed bag. With this one, though, I'm leaning more towards declaring it a negative reading experience. There were just too many nonsensical things, too many abrupt and weird endings, too many stor

    There are two really great stories here, a couple of okay ones, many pages of beautiful/whimsical/amusing writing, several interesting ideas, and

    . Let's call it a 2.5.

    As with many other short story collections, like Machado's

    ,

    is a mixed bag. With this one, though, I'm leaning more towards declaring it a negative reading experience. There were just too many nonsensical things, too many abrupt and weird endings, too many stories that felt pointless.

    By far the best, for me, were "The Rabbit" and "Six Boy Coffins". The first is a retelling of

    and it is the stuff of nightmares. Gone is the sob-inducing rabbit of the original and, in his place, is one seriously murderous bunny.

    "Six Boy Coffins" is more of a traditional fairy tale with kings, queens, princesses, curses and punishments. The story arc was the most satisfying, and I couldn't look away right from the horrific opening to the very end.

    "The Daughter Cells" was also pretty good. This is a

    retelling and the narrator had such a snarky, weird and strangely likable voice. It's a perfectly dark and gory opening to the collection.

    Some others read well and were engaging, but felt like they were building towards something important only to peter out at the end. You think something dramatic or twisty is going to happen and you wait and wait and it ends with the characters sat around drinking tea (or whatever). The titular "The Merry Spinster" is like this-- an enjoyable

    retelling that gets to the end and I had no idea what the point was. I felt like I was supposed to “get” something that I didn’t.

    "The Frog Princess", too, is an easy read, but feels pointless in the end-- no message, no twist, no climax. Nothing.

    Pretty much all the others did nothing for me. I was intrigued by the gender fluid

    retelling in "The Thankless Child" but I genuinely have no idea what the hell that story was even about. "The Wedding Party" is another that left me clueless.

    Overall,

    was pretty disappointing. I'm glad I was able to find a couple of stand-out stories, but given that they account for less than 20% of the collection, it doesn't make sense to rate this any higher.

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