The Merry Spinster by Mallory Ortberg
Published: March 13, 2018
Genre: Short Stories, Retelling
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 becomes among the most popular on the site, with each entry bringing in tens of thousands of views, as the stories proved a perfect vehicle for Ortberg’s eye for deconstruction and destabilization. Sinister and inviting, familiar and alien all at the same time, The Merry Spinster updates traditional children’s stories and fairy tales with elements of psychological horror, emotional clarity, and a keen sense of feminist mischief. Readers of The Toast will instantly recognize Ortberg’s boisterous good humor and uber-nerd swagger: those new to Ortberg’s oeuvre will delight in her unique spin on fiction, where something a bit mischievous and unsettling is always at work just beneath the surface. Unfalteringly faithful to its beloved source material, The Merry Spinster also illuminates the unsuspected, and frequently, alarming emotional complexities at play in the stories we tell ourselves, and each other, as we tuck ourselves in for the night. Bedtime will never be the same.
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In the excitement of looking at all the new presents the Velveteen Rabbit was put aside, and he learned for the first time what it was to be ignored, and he did not forget it.
I want to first thank the publishers & NetGalley for providing me with an eBook of The Merry Spinster. I am a huge fan of retellings and fairytale stories. But sadly this collection was not what I was hoping it would be. Now some were good like The Six Boy-Coffins and The Rabbit. They were dark, twisted and crept into my mind. The rest were not up to par or just so-so. The stories ended abruptly and tons did not make an ounce of sense. The Daughter Cells was extremely gory and a very interesting twist on The Little Mermaid. The Thankless Child was confusing but I loved the gender fluidity component. Fear Not: An Incident Log had a dark humor to it that was quite funny and the way it made like the point of view was carrying out some mundane task was so funny. The Merry Spinster was a Beauty and The Beast retelling and quite confusing. The Wedding Party had funny moments that I loved between the main characters. Some of Us Had Been Threatening Our Friend Mr. Toad quite terrifying and filled with manipulation. Cast Your Bread Upon the Water, The Frog’s Princess, Good Fences Make Good Neighbors all had good moments but were ok.
The stories may not have been the best but the writing was superb. I really loved how much it fit the fairytale setting. The writing was whimsical, witty, filled with stunning prose, and just all around good writing. The characters in each story did stand out and were multi-dimensional. Though I did not care for all of them they each had a horrible feeling to them that sent chills down my spine. I really wanted to enjoy this more than I did but I did like the idea of it and the cover was gorgeous.
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