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Bone Swans: Stories by C. S. E. Cooney

Bone Swans: Stories

by C. S. E. Cooney

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English (4)  French (1)  All languages (5)
Showing 4 of 4
A collection of five novellas, Bone Swans exceeded my expectations.

I'll admit to not being the right reader for "Life on the Sun" and "Martyr's Gem." And "The Big Bah-Ha" had clowns, need I say more?

But I absolutely lost my mind when I finished "How the Milkmaid Struck a Bargain with the Crooked One," a fairy-tale retelling based on Rumpelstiltskin tales. It was SO good, an instant favorite -- seriously, it's worth buying this book for that story alone.

The other retelling, "The Bone Swans of Amandale," a mash-up of "The Pied Piper" and "The Juniper Tree," was more sinister than yet equally fulfilling as "Milkmaid." That's saying a lot coming from me because I'm not usually too impressed with the Pied Piper. (See "Some Wait" by Stephen Graham Jones in The Starlit Wood for another exception to my usual meh response to the Piper.) Maurice cracked me up! He reminded me of Templeton from Charlotte's Web; although, Maurice does end up being more good than bad. Almost an anti-hero.

If you're looking for stories with a fresh voice, I highly recommend this collection.

4 stars ( )
  flying_monkeys | Dec 19, 2016 |
Excellent and very original stories. Grounded in a wide range of traditional fantasy stories, adopting and adapting tales from the brothers Grimm, but infusing the characters with a twenty first century outlook, Cooney pulls off a daring alchemy where everything works so well together that it feels like a wholly fresh creation. I got that wonderful feeling of having stumbled on something completely new and very exciting. 20 October 2016 ( )
1 vote alanca | Oct 20, 2016 |
A few months ago I wrote a couple of paragraphs on the splendidly fresh The Bone Swans Of Amandale, a 28.000 word novella by C.S.E. Cooney. I ended that review with the promise to pick up the entire collection, and I’ve done just that.

Bone Swans features 5 stories – most about 40 pages. All of the stories can by read for free online (check the links below), but I think it merits a physical purchase, very much so. Unique, bold authors as Claire Cooney need all the support they can get. It will also be a great collection to read to your 12 year old kids – and bedtime reading from a tablet simply doesn’t have the same charm. Not to mention screen light being bad for your loved ones’ sleep cycles.

Everything I wrote about The Bone Swans of Amandale is true for the other 4 stories: “poetic, humorous, original, daring, gruesome, outrageous, unsettling and even amoral.” Maybe that last adjective doesn’t go for every tale, but still: that’s quite a row of lauding words. I cannot praise the collection enough. I’m fairly sure it will end up in my favorite ten reads this year…

Below a few notes on each story. Whatever you do after the jump, please, do read those four, short quotes.


Please read the full review on Weighing A Pig... ( )
  bormgans | Feb 29, 2016 |
An excellent collection of five stories. the writing is rich and the characters fascinating. I'm not sure how or where I came across C.S.E. Cooney, but I'll definitely look out for her writing in future. Overall, highly recommended.

Life on the Sun: Incredible worldbuilding in just a few pages. The mix of cultures, desert landscape, rights wronged and wrongs righted, and a nearly perfect ending.

The Bone Swans of Amandale: Interesting fusion of faerie tales, brought down-to-earth by the wonderfully grounded narrator, Maurice the Incomparable. I especially adored the characterisation of the Pied Piper, fey and lost and eldritch when he needs to be.

Martyr's Gem: Again, excellent world-building in a very short space. About the only quibble I have with this story is the subplot and ending: I'd have preferred to wonder how Hyrryai would discover her way to herself from where they were rather than the lot of them sailing off over the horizon. New beginnings are just too easy for this story, somehow.

How the Milkmaid Struck a Bargain with the Crooked One: Excellent rumpelstiltskin. I really liked Gordie.

The Big Bah-Ha: This story let the collection down, somehow. While the ending came back up to par, the first half was... uninspiring, in comparison. In any other collection I probably wouldn't have noticed, but after the first four stories, it was glaringly clumsy in comparison. ( )
1 vote tarshaan | Sep 5, 2015 |
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C. S. E. Cooneyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wolfe, GeneIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0988912449, Paperback)

"C. S. E. Cooney is one of the most moving, daring, and plainly beautiful voices to come out of recent fantasy. She's a powerhouse with a wink in her eye and a song in each pocket."
--Catherynne M. Valente, New York Times-bestselling author of the Fairyland novels
"These stories are a pure joy. C. S. E. Cooney's imagination is wild and varied, her stories bawdy, horrific, comic, and moving-frequently all at the same time. Her characters are wickedly appealing, and her language-O! her language. Lush, playful, poetic, but never obscure or stilted, it makes her magic more magic, her comedy more comic, and her tragic moments almost unbearable."
--Delia Sherman, author of Young Woman in a Garden: Stories
A swan princess hunted for her bones, a broken musician and his silver pipe, and a rat named Maurice bring justice to a town under fell enchantment. A gang of courageous kids confronts both a plague-destroyed world and an afterlife infested with clowns but robbed of laughter. In an island city, the murder of a child unites two lovers, but vengeance will part them. Only human sacrifice will save a city trapped in ice and darkness. Gold spun out of straw has a price, but not the one you expect.
World Fantasy Award winner Ellen Kushner has called Cooney's writing "stunningly delicious! Cruel, beautiful and irresistible." Bone Swans, the infernally whimsical debut collection from C. S. E. Cooney, gathers five novellas that in the words of Andre Norton Award winner Delia Sherman are "bawdy, horrific, comic, and moving-frequently all at the same time." Cooney's mentor, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Gene Wolfe, proclaims in his introduction that her style is so original it can only be described as "pure Cooney," and he offers readers a challenge: "Try to define that when you've finished the stories in this book."
More praise for Bone Swans
"Like one of her characters, C. S. E. Cooney is a master piper, playing songs within songs. Her stories are wild, theatrical, full of music and murder and magic."
--James Enge, author of Blood of Ambrose
"C. S. E. Cooney uses words like jewels, stringing them together on gold filigree sentences. Then she adds a beaded fringe of colorful characters-the living, the dead, the wronged, the righteous, the villainous, the vengeful, the divine. It's a treasure chest of a collection, and it's full of gems."
--Sharon Shinn, author of the Elemental Blessings series
"These stories are rich, original fantasy with a sharp edge, peopled by vivid, engaging characters inhabiting fantastic worlds. This is a brilliant and thoroughly enjoyable collection."
--Martha Wells, author of The Books of the Raksura series
"Cooney drafts lyrical prose that sparkles with brilliant imagery and compelling characters. I can't wait to see what she does next!"
--Howard Andrew Jones, author of The Desert of Souls

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 29 Jul 2015 19:35:41 -0400)

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