I just finished Bone Swans, a collection of stories by C.S.E. Cooney – very highly recommended!
A great collection of stories, poetry singing along with the narrative (and often included, too, to dazzling effect). C.S.E. Cooney’s writing just has this amazing energy and panache to it. I love it. How they’re written – the juicy, glorious language – is such an important part of her stories. This collection is really diverse, with a range of narrators and styles.
My favourites were “Martyr’s Gem” and “How the Milkmaid Struck a Bargain with the Crooked One”, stories I’d enjoyed already previously. I just adore pretty much every character in “Martyr’s Gem” – especially lovely Shursta! The oral culture is done so well, too. The storytelling bit always gives me the shivers.
“How the Milkmaid Struck a Bargain with the Crooked One” is an awesome fairytale reworking. The narrator is such a joy, and I love how this version plays out. It’s set in the same world as some of Cooney’s other stories, too, such as “The Last Sophia” (in Strange Horizons) and her two Dark Breakers novellas – all of them highly recommended too! It’s so cool to see a writer doing several stories in the same world.
I was also really impressed by “Life on the Sun” and “The Bone Swans of Amandale” (so creepy in a great fairytale way!). The final tale, “The Big Bah-Ha”, appealed to me the least, but I think that’s mostly because I’m creeped out by clowns and so couldn’t enjoy the story as much due to subject matter. However, that was basically my only quibble with this collection.
You should also check out all of Claire Cooney’s poetry because it’s awesome.