The Merry Spinster by Mallory Ortberg

The Merry Spinster

From Mallory Ortberg comes a collection of darkly mischievous stories based on classic fairy tales. Adapted from her beloved "Children's Stories Made Horrific" series, "The Merry Spinster" takes up the trademark wit that endeared Ortberg to readers of both The Toast and her best-selling debut Texts From Jane Eyre. The feature become among the most popular on the site, with each entry bringing in tens of thousands of views, as the stories proved a...

Details The Merry Spinster

TitleThe Merry Spinster
Release DateMar 13th, 2018
PublisherHolt Paperbacks
GenreShort Stories, Horror, Fiction, Fantasy, Retellings, Fairy Tales

Reviews The Merry Spinster

  • Jaksen
    I read the first few, skimmed the rest. I don't get any of it. Seems written by a writer who luxuriates in her own overblown cleverness.I don't mean to be unnecessarily cruel in my review, and the writing itself is superb. That is, how one word meets the next; how metaphors fly out like gnats, biting and surprising you; how carefully each story is composed; and even, how repetition of phrases create a sort of innate rhythm to each tale. Yep, this...
  • ❀⊱Rory⊰❀
    4 Stars! Review to follow.
  • Tiffany Huffman (perfictionist.tiff)
    Mallory Ortberg, author of Texts From Jane Eyre, has created another wonderfully unique book. This compilation of short stories retelling a variety of everyone's most beloved fairy and folk tales is not one the reader will soon forget. The main reason I would love a hard copy of this book and perceive it as a valuable read is I like that this book changes my perspective on classic stories. I will never think of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the ...
  • ak
    Received an ARC for free blah blah whatever disclosure.These stories are weird and queer and horrifying and are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but if you like Mallory’s writing especially her “children’s stories made horrifying” you won’t be disappointed. Also The Rabbit is going to haunt me forever.
  • Devann
    I received a free copy of this book from NetGalleyThis was a really great book of fairytale retellings. I like how she often took inspiration from more than one story at a time [all the source stories are listed at the end of the book] instead of just doing a straight retelling but with dark elements added. It definitely helped keep my interest because I didn't always know where the story was going, which I find is the problem with a lot of fairy...
  • Cristina
    Thanks to Disney's whimsical remakes of capital "R" Romantic folklore, my only childhood exposure to fairytales was cheerful princesses singing their way to happy endings surrounded by industrious animal friends. But we're all adults here. I think by now, we all know these are just sugar-coated versions of some pretty gnarly source material.The Merry Spinster meets us somewhere in the middle with 11 twisted versions of well known fables and fairy...
    This review originally appeared on the book review blog: Just One More Pa(i)ge. I am a huge fan of a retelling. So, seeing this collection of retellings of fairy tales, folk tales and other well-known/traditional stories available for request on NetGalley had me super interested. Needless to say, I was psyched when I got chosen and sent the ARC. I was a little nervous starting to read, because “everyday horror” could mean a lot of things (I t...
  • Nostalgia Reader
    3.5 stars.This was a fun collection of fairy tale and other classic story retellings, all with a modern and “everyday” take on them. Rather than being full on fairy tales, where magic is a fantastical element, these take on a more magical realist feel, where it’s a fact of life and plays more of an underlying, but still important, role. The horror aspect was mostly a psychological horror, rather than the more physical, jumpscare that I was ...
  • Bunny
    Can you take the Real out of a boy, then? Can you take his heart into your own self and leave him stuffed with sawdust on the nursery floor in your place?The Velveteen Rabbit story is the golden star of this book. Good god. I have a certain affection for fairy tales. I love them all, from the dark original versions to the colorful and happy Disney films all the way to the retellings, like The Lunar Chronicles. The stories are so familiar, but eac...
  • Carly
    Engrossing, clever, creepy and fun!
  • Brook
    “Daughters are as good a thing as any…” begins The Merry Spinster by Danny Ortberg’s wild reimagining of the Little Mermaid that ends in such grim fashion as to make the reader nod solemnly and intone, “truly, these are the end of times.” And yet, what a romp of a dark timeline. (visit for the rest)
  • Ann
    I want to start by saying that I was lucky enough to read The Merry Spinster through an eARC courtesy of Netgalley and Henry Holt publishing. I appreciate the opportunity. I've never read anything like The Merry Spinster. I mean this quite literally, as I have never read a "re-telling" of a folk or fairy tale. I can say this this will no longer be the case. I grew up on books like "Frog and Toad are Friends." I did own a children's adapted copy o...
  • Beth Dean
    The Merry Spinster is a collection of fairy tales and fables (think the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen as opposed to Disney) and reimagines them in a darker, more sinister light.It takes those many-times-told stories of our childhood such as The Little Mermaid and The Velveteen Rabbit (click these links to read them free at Project Gutenberg), puts a butcher knife in the main characters’ hands, and lets them stab their way through t...
  • Laura
    The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg is a collection of retellings. Most of the retellings are of fairy tales, but some are based on other literature such as the tale, "The Rabbit," which is based on the Velveteen Rabbit. There are 11 tales in total.There is a horrifying aspect to each story. Mallory Ortberg takes a tale that has some level of darkness to it and twists it to make it even darker. For example, the retelli...
  • Tess
    I have been a fan of Mallory Ortberg’s writing since her early days at The Toast, so I was over the moon to be able to get my grubby hands on an advanced copy of her newest, The Merry Spinster. This collection of fairytale, folklore, and bible re-tellings is both ingenious and terrifying. With a feminist and queer spin (no pun intended) to each story, Ortberg’s writing brings an unexpected and needed new life to them. You do not need a perfec...
  • Rachel Rooney
    Retellings of classic fairy tales and other stories, including Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, The Fisherman and His Wife, and even The Bible, but all with a very different spin than the tale with which you might be familiar and sometimes drawing on multiple source materials for one story.This was fun, and I really enjoyed how Ortberg played with gender expectations and gender roles within the stories. I liked some stories more than others, but t...
  • Alicia
    2018-03-12 know it is tempting to plow through a new book by Ortberg, but these stories demand to be savored, and I think benefit from it too. Ortberg is playing with fairy tale tropes and bible stories to create stories that are weird, hilarious, creepy, and sad, and sometimes all four at the same time. If you already love Ortberg's writing, this is another winner; if you’re not familiar, the first story in the b...
  • Gillian
    This was a very cool book. The imagery that Ortberg uses and the flipping of the usual narrative scripts within fairy tales was awesome and well thought out. There were tons of lines that she wrote that I highlighted and chortled at because they were just so true to life, despite being set in a fairy tale world. Definitely would recommend this book to anyone who likes the grimmer side of fairy tales.
  • Maddie O.
    I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley to provide an honest review. Thank you to the publisher and author for this opportunity.I thought that this was a solid book of stories, all of which were inspired by a fairy tale or myth. There were some that I really liked and some that just didn’t quite do it for me, but the writing itself was consistently good. I cautiously suggest picking it up if you’re a fan of retellings.
  • Ashley Elliott
    This was such a weird fun book! It’s full of short stories based off of fairy tales given their own twist and I adored them all. The first based off the little mermaid, the one called the six boy-coffins and the title story were probably my favorite and the weirdest. I just want to jump in some of these stories and pick up right where she left off. Also I feel so bad for Mr. Toad! It’s delightful!
  • Mara
    I had high hopes for this book and it did not disappoint! I love ironic or twisted fairy tale retellings, and this book delivered those in spades. I was particularly delighted/disgusted by the Velveteen Rabbit retelling. The writing had moments of being a little choppy, which is what knocks this down a bit for me, but I was engaged throughout and thought the stories flowed from one to the other very nicely.
  • Sarah
    I requested this book from NetGalley because I love Mallory Ortberg as a podcaster and advice columnist. Unfortunately, it turns out that I do not care for fairy tale-esque short stories even when they're written by someone I like, so this one was a DNF for me.*I received a free pre-release copy of this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
  • Kest Schwartzman
    --received as part of goodreads early reviewer program--I was looking forward to this one, and even so it was better than expected. AS with any short story collection, some are stronger than others. Some are too near the fairytale to have anything really new to say, some so far as, really, to just be short stories, and not retelling at all. But then there's several that balance -perfectly-. Just perfect. I will never see the velveteen rabbit the ...
  • Jessica T.
    Dark horror fairytale retellings??? SIGN ME UP!!!!! I was thrilled when netgally approved me for this... My favorites were The daughter cells, the rabbit, and some of us have been threatening our friend Mr. Toad. These are nightmare inducing gems. My least favorite was the thankless child. I didn't get it and the pronoun thing just pissed me off. Overall I would definitely recommend this and I will be buying my own copy when it comes out.
  • Ampersand Inc.
    Many of the stories were genuinely entertaining and thrilling (these are horror fairy tales, after all.) A couple were a little out there, even for me.
  • MsAprilVincent
    Okay. So you know how every time a Disney animated movie is released, there's always That One Guy who's really into himself who says some boring supercilious bullcrap like, "I prefer the ORIGINAL; it's MUCH DARKER and the ending is FAR from HAPPY."〰This is the kind of person who SAYS he's read Hunter S. Thompson when he really read a Wikipedia synopsis of Thompson's plots; also he talks like Holden Caulfield whenever anybody tries to discuss po...
  • Patty
    A collection of “retold fairy tales” – or so says the blurb, but I think I’d describe it as a collection of short stories that, while they certainly play with fairy tale motifs and plots, aren’t quite producing new fairy tales, no more than The Bloody Chamber or Into the Woods are fairy tales. Besides, Ortberg takes her inspiration from sources beyond traditional folklore: here we have Shakespeare, the Bible, The Wind in the Willows, an...
  • Pop Bop
    Does A Lot of Interesting Things, InterestinglyFirst off, I didn't see the horror, scary, creepy angle here. These are witty, mischievous, and pretend-dark retellings of fairy tales and other popular cultural artifacts, but they struck me as funny, arch, coy, playful, and argumentative deconstructions and writing exercises, not actual "tales of horror". That's fine; indeed, that's great. But I wouldn't put this work in the same category or genre ...
  • Zachary Houle
    he back-cover copy of my Advance Reader’s Copy of Mallory Ortberg’s The Merry Spinster notes that “bedtime will never be the same” — at least, not after reading this book. That’s a bold assertion to make, but this short story collection of fairy tales and children’s stories that have been updated for adults has certainly changed my world view. Taking a bit of a feminist slant, Ortberg plays with the concept of gender in this boo...