Rags & Bones

Publisher: Headline

This is an interesting anthology, collecting re-workings of classic stories by a number of well-known (and less-well-known) fantasy and science fiction writers. Among them are names such as Holly Black, Kami Garcia, and Gene Wolfe (a veteran writer whose Book of the New Sun series is a landmark work), though the biggest draw here is likely to be Neil Gaiman.

There is something here, as they say, for everyone. Garth Nix's  ‘Losing Her Divinty’ is a retelling of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Man Who Would Be King’ that is as much a risque parody of ‘sword and sorcery’ pulp as it is an homage to it, whilst Tim Pratt’s ‘The Cold Corner’ re-imagines a Henry James ghost story in contemporary small-town North Carolina to great effect. The post-apocalyptic theme of Carrie Ryan’s ‘That the Machine May Progress Eternally’, which riffs on E M Forster’s ‘The Machine Stops’, brings a chilly note to the proceedings, whilst Gaiman’s contribution, a retelling of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ that gives the central character just a little more agency than the traditional tale, is thoughtful, funny, and inventive. A strong collection that will appeal to fans of science fiction and fantasy, but which might well bring round those who are yet to be convinced as well.

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