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Bone Swans: Stories

by C. S. E. Cooney

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1066260,545 (4.32)1
In this debut collection from C. S. E. Cooney, 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 confront 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.… (more)
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English (5)  French (1)  All languages (6)
Showing 5 of 5
Bone Swans is a collection of 5 stories/novellas in the fantasy/fairy tale genres. I enjoyed every one of these stories, which is unusual for a short story collection. I also liked that the stories felt complete, like a novel. I was left feeling satisfied after each story. The first story was "Life on the Sun," it is a fantasy story about people rebelling against a dictator that is also a god. the second story is the one the collection is named for, "The Bone Swans of Amandale." It is a retelling of a couple of fairy tales mashed together (Pied Piper, Swan Princess, Juniper Tree). Someone is murdering the Swan people and Maurice the Rat decides to help. The third was "Martyr's Gem." It is a fantasy novel about a man from a small village who is picked by the daughter of one of the world's prominent families to be her husband. The fourth story was "How the Milkmaid Struck a Bargain with the Crooked One." It was a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, with a twist. The final story was called "The Big Bah-Ha." It was a post-apocalyptic fantasy where a disease kills everyone once they reach a certain age (about 13). The only survivors are the children, but they too will become victims once they age. Meanwhile, supernatural beings wait for the end of humanity. I would definitely recommend this collection to anyone how enjoys fantasy and/or fairy tale retellings. All the stories, including the retellings, felt fresh and original. ( )
  Cora-R | Jul 31, 2019 |
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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In this debut collection from C. S. E. Cooney, 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 confront 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.

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