Dangerous promises and beguiling threats swirl together in a dozen stories of enchantments dark and light by New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr. Uncanny and unexpected creatures appear from behind bushes, rise from beneath the seas, or manifest from seasonal storms to pursue the objects of their attention—with amorous or sinister intent—relentlessly.
From the gentle tones of a storyteller’s cadences to the terror of a blood sacrifice, tales of favorite characters from Marr’s Wicked Lovely novels mix with accounts of new characters for readers to fall in love with…or to fear. Lush, seductive, and chilling, Melissa Marr’s stories revel in the unseen magic that infuses the world as we know it.
Tell Me More: Melissa Marr is one of the reasons for my great appreciation of young adult fiction. Before reading Wicked Lovely, I had never really found a faery story that could capture my imagination. Faery Tales & Nightmares is an intimate visit into the intricate fantasy worlds of Marr’s canon.
As this book is a short story collection, I’d like to discuss each story using a scale of 1-10 (according to how well the story was constructed, its organic unity, and enjoyability).
“Where Nightmares Walk” – 5: This is probably one of the weakest stories in the anthology because it doesn’t really make much sense. I feel like this was a part cut out from a longer story or novella. The characters were vaguely sketched out, and the plot was a little perturbing, but the reader isn’t given a satisfying conclusion.
“Winter’s Kiss” (Fairy Tales) – 7: The familiar setting is a plus for this story about the Wicked Lovely faeries. I personally enjoyed seeing this universe again after Darkest Mercy, though it wasn’t as involved as I would have liked it to be.
“Transition” (Vampires) – 9: Utterly chilling, this story originally appeared in the anthology Teeth: Vampire Tales. While I didn’t love the story, it is one of the best examples of Marr’s writing talents. The reader won’t know what to expect and the conclusion is well-earned.
“Love Struck” (Selchies) – 8: Between this story and The Secret of Roan Inish, is it any surprise that I fell in love with selkies? This story was previously published in Love is Hell, and is my favourite piece from that collection. Marr’s deft control over Alaina and Murrin’s romance is something both teens and adults will appreciate.
“Stopping Time” (WL World) – 7: Leslie from Ink Exchange makes her first appearance in this collection. Niall and Irial’s struggles to deal with Leslie’s decision at the end of that novel are portrayed in an interesting manner. While I can’t discuss much of the story because of spoilers, I will say that this was one of my guilty pleasure stories.
“Old Habits” (WL World) – 8.5: I was surprised by the length of this story and consider it more of a novella. Again, Niall and Irial take center stage and their relationship, while hinted at in the Wicked Lovely series, is revealed in all its gritty glory. I definitely think they deserve a whole other book.
“The Art of Waiting” – 4: Interesting concept, not enough page time. Marr’s penchant for vaguely named/unnamed characters is a blow against this story because it doesn’t actually give readers a character to invest in.
“Flesh for Comfort” – 9: Perfect flash fiction to counter the weaker stories in the collection. I was very creeped out by this piece, and the social commentary is unsettling in its accuracy.
“The Sleeping Girl and the Summer King” (WL World-ish, the short story that started the series) – 6: I’m not sure what to think of this story. Fans of WL will recognize the characters and conflicts, but I’m not sure that it was necessary to include this piece. After reading WL, seeing the background of the story seems a little redundant and contrived.
“Cotton Candy Skies” (WL World) – 7: Another story that’s got me on the fence. Rabbit was a great character and while I liked seeing more of him especially after Radiant Shadows, the way Marr brings him back is strange. Again, this story could have benefited from length.
“Unexpected Family” (WL World) – 8: Seth! As many of my friends know, I adore Seth unconditionally. That said, the first few pages felt a little repetitive, I did enjoy seeing him strike out on his own. Out of all the characters in the story, I was most interested in Seth’s development and this story brings him full circle.
“Merely Mortal” (WL World) – 7: A cutesy piece about Donia and Keenan. As I’m not invested in them, I wasn’t too interested in their story, but the writing itself was much more enjoyable than I remembered when it came to those two.
The Final Say: Melissa Marr fans will enjoy rediscovering their favourite characters and universes, but new readers may not be as satisfied with Marr’s first and rather uneven collection of stories.