The Curiosities by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff

I had this review slated for October, when lo and behold, I noticed on Amazon that the release date had been shifted to the first week of August! So, here it is, my review of The Curiosities. I will try to get back to 50SoG this week, so keep an eye out for it! And by it, I mean Christian’s… Well, this is a YA review. Never mind.

The Curiosities cover artThe Curiosities

by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff

Carolrhoda Books, $17.95 Hardcover, 978-0761375272, August 1, 2012

From acclaimed YA authors Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff comes The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories.

– A vampire locked in a cage in the basement, for good luck.
– Bad guys, clever girls, and the various reasons why the guys have to stop breathing.
– A world where fires never go out (with references to vanilla ice cream).

These are but a few of the curiosities collected in this volume of short stories by three acclaimed practitioners of paranormal fiction.

But The Curiosities is more than the stories. Since 2008, Maggie, Tessa, and Brenna have posted more than 250 works of short fiction to their website merryfates.com. Their goal was simple: create a space for experimentation and improvisation in their writing—all in public and without a backspace key. In that spirit, The Curiosities includes the stories and each author’s comments, critiques, and kudos in the margins. Think of it as a guided tour of the creative processes of three acclaimed authors.

Short fiction from three of my favorite authors? Sign me up!

By way of introduction: Maggie Stiefvater’s fans know her best from her two series The Wolves of Mercy Falls and Books of Faerie.  Tessa Gratton’s first novel, The Blood Keeper, will soon be followed by its companion Blood Magic. Brenna Yovanoff made a terrific splashdown into the YA genre with The Replacement. Her newest novel, Paper Valentine, is due out in 2013. If you haven’t read these three, you’re missing three of fantasy’s brightest stars. So, you know, get on that.

Most of the stories included here feel like fragments: brief, with no defined endings. I can imagine the authors piecing them together as novels, and in at least one introduction, one of the Merry Fates mentions vague thoughts of doing just that. These scenes are short, brilliant, and diverse.

The  fiction itself is almost beside the point, though. While it’s excellent (as expected from these authors), the most interesting part of this book are the process notes and comments the authors scrawled in the margins.  Taking a look into their creative processes is both inspiring and hilarious. On the one hand, much of what they say about writing, particularly their own strengths and weaknesses, is insightful. On the other hand, these women sound like human beings–super-smart human beings, but funny, fallible human beings who talk about needing gin and Wikipedia to get an idea. Well, they talk about it on the website anyway. I don’t remember if those exact elements made the book or not, but you get the idea. Not only is this collection a fun tour of the authors’ abilities for fans and new readers, it’s great inspiration for anyone trying to write fiction.

Also, I totally think the girl and the good luck vampire wound up as an item. Twilight has clearly ruined my brain.

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