Review: Clockwork, Curses and Coal by Rhonda Parrish
Faery tale lovers who love a good reinterpretation with a twist, this collection is for you. Whenever I see Steampunk, I have to pick it up because it is so rare to find. It is also rare to find well written Steampunk. This cover caught my attention immediately with its gears, goggles and top hat. The stories themselves, captivated me, for the most part. The first one which is a slight variation of Sleeping Beauty and the Princess and The Pea kicks off this anthology beautifully.
For the most part, all the stories features can easily tie back to a well loved faery tale. What I liked is that it is a Brothers Grimm version instead of Disney. My favourite one is "A Future of Towers Made" by Beth Cato. This newer version of Rapunzel is heartbreaking as well as vindicating. This one embodies what I love about Steampunk creation. It also shows the plight of women in a Victorian age. What is sad is that this situation "Rapunzel" finds herself in is not too different than many women of today. I loved Ms. Cato's writing style so much that I ended up pick up her Clockwork Duology to read. It is wonderful when an anthology introduces me to a new author.
The rest of the stories are a bit haunting like Blood and Clockwork by Wendy Nikel or completely incomprehensible like Divine Spark from Diana Hulburt. When it comes to non-romance anthologies, I tend to avoid them because so many times, an author will write a short story that has zero plot or zero conclusion. It is as if a figment of their dream state is spat upon a piece of paper. I can make neither heads or tales of it. This leaves me unsatisfied and frustrated. I need some kind of meaning or conclusion to my story, no matter if it is short or long. A couple of the short stories in here are unrecognizable to me and I am not sure what faery tale is the source.
The last one I want mention is Sappho and Erinna. Just the title brings a spark into my eyes. I recognize the name Sappho and hope this story may contain what I think it implies. Author Lex T. Lindsay does a lovely revision of the Twelve Dancing Sisters. In this one, there are only three sisters, but the original concept is there and the sisters have more depth and complexity than the original. I could imagine this as a full length novel. I loved this story.
This collection is recommended to faery tale lovers who enjoy steampunk and dark creative retellings.
*provided by NetGalley