Monday, October 1, 2012

The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff

Published August 1, 2012.

Three Author Websites.

From acclaimed YA authors Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff comes The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories. 

- A vampire locked in a cage in the basement, for good luck. - Bad guys, clever girls, and the various reasons why the guys have to stop breathing. 

- A world where fires never go out (with references to vanilla ice cream). 

These are but a few of the curiosities collected in this volume of short stories by three acclaimed practitioners of paranormal fiction. But The Curiosities is more than the stories. Since 2008, Maggie, Tessa, and Brenna have posted more than 250 works of short fiction to their website Their goal was simple: create a space for experimentation and improvisation in their writing—all in public and without a backspace key. In that spirit, The Curiosities includes the stories and each author's comments, critiques, and kudos in the margins. Think of it as a guided tour of the creative processes of three acclaimed authors. 

So, are you curious now?  (


NetGalley noted the pub date for this book as today but Goodreads is showing back in August.  Considering Goodreads has the bump-up date for Meagon Spooner's SKYLARK I'm going with the Goodreads date for accuracy.

Okay, so book?  Andrew Karre is a publishing genius, never pandering to a wave or reading fad.  He's his own dowsing rod of incredible works, sniffing them out like a nifler and finding precious, precious gold.  Instead of lifting debuts out of the publishing ashes this time he's taken the minds of three already-established authors and exposed their twisted brains in bound book form.

Stiefvater, Gratton and Yovanoff have been experimentally writing as the Merry Fates for years now, stretching their writerly fingers beyond the scope of each of their perceived comfort zones.  The end result in THE CURIOSITIES is a peek behind Oz's curtain, complete with handwritten cliff notes and StiefTonOff (I need to copyright that) doodles to compliment the shorts scattered throughout.  They banter back and forth about each others' writing styles, throw comments about and generally boost each other up as they dip their toes into unfamiliar, and oftentimes murky, water.

The style of each author emerges almost immediately and you get an almost intimate sense of what each is comfortable writing and what was really a stretch into no-man's land.  It got to a point in THE CURIOSITIES that I didn't need to read who the short was written by, they were that distinct from each other.  You get to see some of their prompts and how each author sometimes interprets something as simple as a single name and even when they reach beyond their zone they all cling to something familiar, something stylistic that grounds them in the unknown.  They wax writer-like about drawing blanks, building a story from a single image or a single sentence or even a snippet of some weird dream.  It's a true look into the heads of authors without the classroom lessons of writing.  All you're getting are real world examples and they're so much more poignant.

Maggie is consistent Maggie even when she's trying to be Brenna or Tessa.  I will admit I was not thrilled with her Ballad of Faerie series.  While her writing was beautiful I felt it was more author than character and as a result I stepped away from her Wolves of Mercy Falls series, not wanting to read more of the same.  But what with her story in KISS ME DEADLY and now all of these it's only a matter of time before I pick up another Maggie book.  I just like her shorts far too much.  Her voice is so much more than just her and her range as an author is astounding.  She can flit in and out of genres as if she were skipping despite how taxing some of those stories were to write.  I am coming around again.

Tessa has a thing for grim fairy tales without really broaching into horror.  She plays at the line with her freaky dolls and pokes brownies in their eyes just for shits and giggles.  She takes a fey world and by sheer will of style turns it into something not only eerily dark but captivating and something wholly other, spinning metaphors into pure gold.  I love it when she dredged up barely touched lore and adds her platinum touch to it.  THE SUMMER ENDS IN SLAUGHTER is one such example that blends lore and darkness and Tessa touch into something that's captivating, drawing you in and not letting you look away.

Brenna prances across that horror line and plays with the dead, dressing them up in decaying dresses and stringing them up like marionettes to put on a show.  NEIGHBORS blew me away to the point of speechlessness.  The opening blurbs even warn about the stereotypical twist.  You know what's coming as you read but you don't because Brenna, in all her twisted horror glory, twists the twist and while you may see one you won't see the other.  By god I loved it.  I need more Brenna stories in my demented, horror-loving life.

THE CURIOSITIES is not only an excellent collection of short stories meant as a glimpse into the legwork of writers but an amazing introduction to the authors StiefTonOff.  See the genius that is Andrew's editing skills in compiling this novel of awesome and then read the expansive minds of three authors with rather set comfort zones shatter their own walls and wander into the wild.

Ban Factor: High - From vampires to fairies to a libido-laden dead teenager there is a veritable smorgasbord of screech-worthy banstuff in here.
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