Friday, August 24, 2012

The Curiosities: A Collection Of Stories by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovano

In 2008, Tessa Gratton, Brenna Yovanoff, and Maggie Steifvater joined forces to create the website merryfates.com. They created the website for one purpose, to expand their writing horizons. They decided to each write a story and not re-write or revise it once it was posted.  After those stories received quite a few followers and fans, Tessa, Brenna, and Maggie decided to keep going. They added more stories, and now they have over 250 on the website. In this book, you can find thirty of their favorites. Some of them are wacky, some are crazy, and some are down right insane. But they all have one thing in common: they will make you curious.

This is a marvelous collection of thirty stories. They will make you think, they will scare you, they will fascinate you. And most of all, they will make you curious. While there are some bad stories in this volume, it is still a welcome addition to my personal library. I shall re-read my favorite stories in the years to come as I wait - not so patiently - for a sequel to this amazing book.

While most of the stories in this collection are pretty tame, some include very graphic depictions of violence and very difficult concepts that are hard to understand.



THE VAMPIRE BOX BY TESSA GRATTON
Rating: 3

Summary: When Nicole finds out there 's a vampire living in her basement, she 's not really frightened. But her parents are. Will she decide to let the vampire stay or let him go?

Opinion: This short story is only 10 pages long. There are a ton of useless descriptions and WAY too many flashbacks for my liking. But without those things, all you' d have is a two-page story. And most of those two pages would be dialogue with absolutely no action whatsoever.
This is a bland story. The characters are immature and unrealistic. I don t understand why the authors would choose this as the opening story for their book.



A MURDER OF GODS BY MAGGIE STIEFVATER
Rating: 9

Summary: When Helen meets Grin, she knows something is wrong about him. Something 's just not stable. When fire ravages the teacher 's lounge, Helen wonders what, or who, could' ve caused it. Could it possibly be Grin?

Opinion: While this story DID sport some minor curse words, I actually enjoyed it. It had minimal descriptions, and the characters - while being children - show a seriousness and maturity you 'd normally find in a young adult. They are realistic and enjoyable to read about.



THE POWER OF INTENT BY BRENNA YOVANOFF
Rating: 2

Summary: Harper is invisible. But she d doesn 't want to be. All she wants is a date with Colin. And when she finds out she can do magic, she tries a spell on Colin. Just a simple one. One that will make him go out with her and take her to the prom. But will this spell make her life better? Or just plain worse?

Opinion: I loathe love-sick girls. I really do. Needless to say, I hated the main character of this story. Wimpy, pathetic, and so in love that it makes her blind.  Little does Harper know, she is in for a serious consequence. And it 's the worst kind possible.  This is a blah story but still has a good life lesson to learn.



A HISTORY OF LOVE BY MAGGIE STIEFVATER
Rating: 10

Summary: Emma feels like a lady-in-waiting to Daphne. Andy feels like a man-servant to Apollo. Daphne and Apollo seem to be madly in love, but when Daphne suddenly changes something about herself what will Apollo think? And how will it affect Emma and Andy?

Opinion: While I am wary of most teen romance, I found this one to be quite refreshing. The characters are exquisitely realistic and believable, the plot is engaging and funny, and the one major twist in the storyline is extremely enjoyable. I enjoyed the laughter that this story brought with it.



GIRL RAISED BY WOLVES BY BRENNA YOVANOFF
Rating: 9

Summary: Hadley is on the lacrosse team, but all she wants is to be perfect. Like Valerie. Valerie is one of the most popular girls in school, but she s missing something. She feels like there 's a hole in her heart that can never be filled. Like a wish that can never come true. A desire that will never be quenched. Someone made her feel this way. And she almost thinks she hates that someone. Almost.

Opinion: This story doesn't have one word of humor. And yet, I love it. I honestly thought I was watching this story happen before my eyes, and that' s all thanks to the author, who perfectly described the emotions and thoughts of the two characters. The girls in this story are perfectly flawed, so you can feel their pain, anguish, and fear.  You have a feeling you know what they' re going to do before they even do it, and when they do it....your assumptions are completely incorrect. These twists and turns are a great edition to the story.  This story will keep you guessing from beginning to end.



DATE WITH A DRAGONSLAYER BY TESSA GRATTON
Rating: 8

Summary: Vera just happened to slip her name into the drawing. No. She 'd NEVER be picked. Not in a million years.  But she was.  And now she has to go out on a date with a dragonslayer.

Opinion: This story is interesting in the single fact that while it takes place in our world, it' s twisted. It 's a world where Norse Mythology is reality.   Gods and goddesses and mythological creatures really do exist.  The plot of this story is pretty much non-existent. I 've honestly read better. But what this story lacks in plot, it makes up for in its characters. Though perfect and flawless at first glance, these characters slowly grow into lovable and realistic additions to the story.



SCHEHERAZADE BY BRENNA YOVANOFF
Rating: 10

Summary: She comes home from work, tired and ready to go to bed. It has been a long day. She goes into the kitchen, and drops her bag on the counter. She glances over to the open windows. Wait. Open? She' s certain  she closed them before going to work. And now they' re wide open, rain spilling through them and soaking the counter tops. She scans the room for anything unusual.  That 's when it hits her.  Her knives. She glances over, frantically looking for what she fears to be true. The sharpest one is missing.

Opinion: This story may only be 6 pages long, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in suspense. This murder mystery is an amazing short story with characters so real they leap off the pages, and a plot-line so think, twisted, and suspenseful that after reading the last page, you' ll beg for more.  After reading the last word of this story, you' ll want to flip right back to the beginning and read it again.



THE SPIRITUAL TABLE BY TESSA GRATTON
Rating: 6.5

Summary: Morgan trusts the wizard like she trusts King Arthur. But on a cold and windy night, someone tries to kill her. Has her trust been placed in the right person?

Opinion: This is a twist on the original legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. I do not like King Arthur stories of any kind, but this one I kind of liked. It' s a far cry from the original.  In this story, Morgan, Arthur, and the wizard are SO different, it' s almost like they; re different characters. Some supporting characters seem weak and unrealistic, but for the most part, the main characters are life-like and believable.  The plot is excellent, and I enjoyed reading it very much.  However, there are far too many unnecessary elements to this story. The descriptions are too long.  There are too many needless discussions, and the action is bland, not intense. It almost seems as if you 're simply sitting in front of a screen watching the action happen in front of you on the most boring channel on the planet. Truth be told, I 'd rather be IN the action than WATCH it.



THE MADNESS OF LANCELOT BY BRENNA YOVANOFF
Rating: 2

Summary: Asher lost his love. Viv lost her town. Together they set off to swim their sorrows away. But what they find at the bottom of the lake doesn't exactly push sorrow away from them.

Opinion: A boring and completely bland story. The only redeemable part of this train wreck is the twist.  This twist, unfortunately, comes at the VERY END of the story.  The main character is just so paper-thin and unrealistic. She 's just...childish. The supporting character, Asher, is more believable than the main one! And he is pretty unrealistic as it is!  The plot and style of writing is bland solely because 90% of the story consists of descriptions.  As for the title...it doesn't even have anything to do with the story! Lancelot isn't even mentioned in this story, nor is anyone even related to the King Arthur legends! Why Yovanoff would name this story the way she did is a mystery to  me.



THE WIND TAKES OUR CRIES BY MAGGIE STIEFVATER
Rating: 9

Summary: Eoine was the woman' s seventh son.  Even though she loved all her children, she loved Eoine the most. Her children were all hard workers, but Eoine was the most quiet.   He didn't squabble, didn't make noise.  He was so content that he didn't need to be loud. That all changed when her husband started the beatings. Each child received at least one a week, and the beatings would last for hours. Every child had it bad, but Eoine had it the worst. 

When King Arthur came to their home and told them he needed someone quiet and gentle to take care of his hounds, the woman agreed to let him take Eoine.  After a year of being without her son, the woman began to have doubts. Would her son ever return to her? Would she never see him again?

Opinion: Yet another twist on the King Arthur legends, this tale has a melancholy feel to it. Steifvater does an amazing job making the reader feel pity not only for Eoine, but also for his loving mother. The characters are so life-like and realistic, the setting and plot so beautifully created, how could one not feel sorrow?  This piece of writing, though sad and sorrowful, is a beautiful addition to the many stories that grace the pages of this book.



AUBURN BY BRENNA YOVANOFF
Rating: 3.5

Summary: When Auburn needs a ride home, he comes and offers her one. But as they' re driving, Auburn realizes that he 's not taking her home. She begins to doubt her decision. Did she really choose the right person to trust?

Opinion: The plot is almost non-existent; the characters are flat, uninteresting, and unbelievable; and the setting is a Mosh Pit.  The ending was the best part but leaves you with the message that letting someone take you away is perfectly fine. Overall, it's a horrid story that I will most likely not be reading again.



THE DEADLIER OF THE SPECIES BY MAGGIE STIEFVATER
Rating: 9

Summary: Jamie hates Andrew. The only thing they have in common is Annette, who is Jamie' s best friend and Andrew' s fiance. One day she mysteriously goes missing. And when Jamie and Andrew find her, it 's anything but a happy reunion.

Opinion: I abhor zombie stuff. I've never enjoyed books about them, and the movies are always unnecessarily graphic and...just too unrealistic for my taste. This is a story about zombies. And yet, I loved it.  The ending, while gruesome, was amazing. It wasn't the average ending to a zombie tale, and that was exactly why I enjoyed this so much. The characters were believable and as realistic as anyone in a zombie novel could be. The plot and vividly horrific scenery were part of what made this story seem so real.



PUDDLES BY TESSA GRATTON
Rating: 9

Summary: Izzy loves puddles. Tiergon loves pushing Izzy into them. Izzy wonders why Tiergon hates the puddles. Can't he see how wonderfully magical and amazing they are?  One day Izzy runs into the woods after a heavy rain, scouting out the perfect puddle to sit and stare into. She finds one and situates herself next to it. She slowly glances down and stares at her own reflection.
What happens next will change her life forever.

Opinion: While this story is extremely short, the characters are very well-created. They seem life-like and realistic.  There really is no setting or plot, but this story still has a moral at the end, and a wise one at that.  This short story is a perfect addition to this collection, and I m glad the authors decided to include it.



THE BONE-TENDER BY BRENNA YOVANOFF
Rating: 7.5

Summary: Noah has helped heal people since he was little. Brendon has picked on everyone since he was little. When Brendon breaks his leg right before soccer season starts, will Noah choose to help his enemy?

Opinion: The characters are quite life-like, and the action is amazingly clear and different at every turn. The plot is engaging, and at many points you feel pity for Noah and for all the other innocent people who get hurt.



DEATH-SHIP BY TESSA GRATTON
Rating: 1

Summary: She sits there...waiting for him to come home. But he never will. She knows that he' s gone. Dead. Sailing new waters where she cannot go. She sits there. Waiting. Just waiting at the Death-ship.

Opinion: Possibly the worst story in the collection. The plot is non-existent, the characters are depressing, and there are WAY too many descriptions. While reading this, I actually wanted to skip over it and read the next story. I wanted to stop reading it and throw the book against the wall just to make the depressing story come to an end. But of course I didn't.  I honestly don 't understand why Gratton would even include this story in the collection. It's completely horrid, and I will not be reading it again.



THE LAST DAY OF SPRING BY MAGGIE STIEFVATER
Rating: 6.5

Summary: Mark wants to know why everyone is so afraid of the Papillons. They only live for three days, they love children, and they have such sparkling personalities. So Mark decides to talk to one. Will the Papillons be as scary as people believe? Or will they be as magical and beautiful as Mark believes?

Opinion: This is a very sad story. And while it has a melancholy feel to it, I enjoyed reading it. The characters are very well-created. The setting and plot are magnificent. But at it's heart, this story is saddening. It's an awful reminder how we, as humans, judge so quickly without even knowing what we' re judging.



CUT BY BRENNA YOVANOFF
Rating: 3

Summary: Snow White longs to be beautiful, just like her stepmother. But her stepmother hates her and wants her gone. When the stepmother gets her hands on a pair of scissors, what will happen to Snow White?

Opinion: This bland, confusing take on Grimm' s Snow White is absolutely horrid. It is frightening, but not in the way that it should be. The fear is not really scary due to the confusing plot and point of view. If these things had been fixed, this story would 've been the thriller it was meant to be. The characters are flat, doing things without any reason.  Honestly, this is the worst Snow White inspired story that I've ever read.  The only reason I rated this as I did was because of the amazing ending. It was something I'd never dreamed the bland, tasteless characters would do.



PHILOSOPHER S FLIGHT BY MAGGIE STIEFVATER
Rating: 5

Summary: Parmander is a crazy Philosopher. I am his assistant. He tells me to fly to the Tower. But the Tower is death. My master surely doesn't wish me dead.  Right?

Opinion: This is yet another take on the steampunk genre. I generally dislike this genre, with the exception of older authors like Jules Verne. And yet, this story is alright. There are elements I enjoy in this story, and the characters I like as well. But the star of the show, the insane Parmander himself, is a weakling. The professor is a psychotic genius. He' s a bulimic, and he has strange notions and ideas that will NEVER work. He almost seems unreal and yet real enough to keep you reading.  The plot is confusing, but not so much that you have trouble figuring out most of it.



ASH-TREE SPELL TO BREAK YOUR HEART BY TESSA GRATTON
Rating: 7

Summary: Melea was created for one purpose, and one purpose only: To make Mister Curran fall in love with her. And when he' s least expecting it, she is to kill him.  But Melea has started to doubt her purpose. Was she really created just to kill?

Opinion: I normally dislike love stories, but I quite liked this one. While confusing at times, this story is a beautiful example of what love can do. The characters are believable and well-rounded; the plot is excellent; and while the setting is practically non-existent, the story doesn't really need it.



RAIN MAKER BY MAGGIE STEIFVATER
Rating: 10

Summary: Dominic knows that the world has gone crazy. No one buys bottled water. Oceans are overflowing. Floods ravage his town. He' s stuck inside all day, not being able to come in contact with anyone - not that he' d want to. Dominic thinks he 's seen everything, but when the pouring rain doesn't stop for months, that 's when the really crazy stuff begins to happen.

Opinion: This end-of-the-world story is one of my favorites out of the entire collection. With vivid and realistic characters and slightly wacked-out scenarios, I enjoyed reading every word of this story.



DUMB SUPPER BY TESSA GRATTON
Rating: 9

Summary: I set the table for many guests, though only I plan to actually eat anything. I am silent. Since the dead cannot speak, why should I?  I wait for my guests to arrive.  Slowly and surely, each one does. But someone' s missing. Where is Travis?

Opinion: A different look at ghosts and Halloween, this story is actually very well-written. Most of the time I do not enjoy ghost stories, as I find them horribly unbelievable. But with this story, ghosts are portrayed in a different light. They are shown as young and youthful, not old and frail, not weaklings only attracted to humans because they live.  The characters are believable, and the plot is interesting.



NEIGHBORS BY BRENNA YOVANOFF
Rating: 10

Summary: She sits, staring at the sky with a forlorn look on her face. She wants a friend. Then Abby moves in across the street. She has finally found someone, but is Abby really someone she can call a friend?

Opinion: I shall repeat myself. I've never enjoyed ghost stories. And yet, I adore this one. The characters are so vivid that they seem to leap right off the pages; and the plot, while saddening, is superb. I honestly wish this story was longer, as I want to see what happens next.



COUNCIL OF YOUTH BY MAGGIE STIEFVATER
Rating: 8

Summary: Matt and Raphael have just taken over the United States of America. There 's not a person alive who 's over forty. With a teeming and restless crowd pounding at their door, what will Matt and Raphael do?

Opinion: This story is the shortest in the collection. It' s only three pages in length, which is tiny - even in short story terms. I really wished it was longer, with more details and a better plot-line, but as it is currently is still very good. Due to the length of the story, none of the characters are 100% realistic, and there 's really no
setting or plot.



THE SUMMER ENDS IN SLAUGHER BY TESSA GRATTON
Rating: 3.5

Summary: Riana loves Fourth Wind - her horse - almost as much as she loves her boyfriend Rhune. When Fourth Wind is chosen for the yearly sacrifice, what will Riana do?

Opinion: While the first page of the story is so superbly written that it draws you in, the rest of the story falls flat. It 's hauntingly strange, almost life-like in its aspects of fear and horror. But good descriptions couldn't really add anything to this story, and these aren't good descriptions. They' re just down-right confusing. The characters are all barely believable, with the exceptions of Riana, Rhune, Fourth Wind, and the devils and ghosts. The plot, while simple, is portrayed in a gruesome, bloody, and confusing way. If the first page of this story wouldn't have been as good as it was, I would've rated this story with a 1.



BLUE AS GOD BY BRENNA YOVANOFF
Rating: 10

Summary: She just wants some fun: some excitement in her life. So she heads off to a Hollywood party. While there, she meets a director. He tells her he can maker her a star. She spends the night with him, and ends up locked in her room - completely and utterly trapped. She wants to escape. She starts to wonder if trusting that director was such a good idea.

Opinion: In this retelling of Bluebeard , the heroine fights back instead of accepting her fate and ultimately, death. I actually loved the original tale of Bluebeard , and while this one has its differences, it' s still very well written. The characters are believable, as is the plot and circumstances.



THOMAS ALL BY TESSA GRATTON
Rating: 9.5

Summary: We are all called Thomas. I am one of us. I can tell when a fairy enters this world.  I can pick a waterhorse out of a crowd in seconds. I am called Thomas. And I am one of us.

Opinion: This is a confusing story at first glance. But when you focus and try to understand, the meaning becomes clear. The characters are quite amazingly crafted so that each and every one - the psycho murderer included - are so life-like that they leap off the pages. The setting is a compliment to the characters, so beautifully and richly created that it seems as if I've actually  been there. The plot in itself is compelling, making you want to keep reading. The only complaint I have about this story is the length. It' s much too short. It needs to be longer, as I want to find out what happens next.



HEART-SHAPED BOX BY MAGGIE STIEFVATER
Rating: 9

Summary: York is dying. He needs a heart-shaped box called a Locket. The Locket will keep him alive. Even though he' s a millionaire, he could never afford one. But his best friend, Jude, might be able to.  With York running out of time, will Jude be able to get him a Locket?

Opinion: This story is one of my favorites. The characters are so vividly described that they seem as if they' re real. The plot and setting are too awe-inspiring to even put into words.
Overall, a great - but sad - story.



BERSERK BY TESSA GRATTON
Rating: 8

Summary: Luta lost her family to a troll attack.  Rein lost his family to a mysterious force. When their paths cross, will they choose to stick together or go their separate ways? To survive and live or be lost forever?

Opinion: This story s plot is what all plots long to be:   mysterious, yet cunning.  Bold and daring. Violent, yet sad. The characters are life-like and realistic, and go well with the plot.
I only have two problems with this story.  The descriptions are much too long, and the violence is way too life-like and gruesome.



LAZARUS GIRL BY BRENNA YOVANOFF
Rating: 1

Summary: Rosa found the girl in the woods - dead as a doornail and hanging from a tree. When Rosa meets Bryce, she finds that he 's interested in the dead girl. Rosa decides to show the girl to Bryce. But something's loose in the woods. Will Rosa and Bryce survive their dangerous journey?

Opinion: This is the most confusing thing I've ever read. The ending doesn't make sense, nor does any part of the plot. The characters are paper-thin and unrealistic. It' s not THE worst story in the book - due to the very well-written first paragraph - but definitely one of the worst.



ANOTHER SUN BY MAGGIE STIEFVATER
Rating: 7

Summary: Imagine a world where fire doesn't go out. Not with water, not with extinguishers, not with rain, hail, snow, or retardant. Not even with the help of firemen. That's the world we live in. That s the world we re going to show you.

Opinion: Up until the very last page, this story is excellent. The main character is the only one who' s realistic, but he 's really all that matters in this particular story. The setting is great, and the plot is good. But then you read the last page, and nothing adds up. Nothing makes sense.  It doesn't add up. The ending doesn't resolve questions. It adds to them.


Reviewer Age:17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Yucaipa, CA USA

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