[REVIEW] The Anatomy of Curiosity – Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, & Brenna Yovanoff

Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, & Brenna Yovanoff
The Anatomy of Curiosity (Anthology)
Lerner Carolrhoda Lab (US: 1st October 2015)
Buy (US Kindle Edition) Buy (US Hardcover) Buy (UK Kindle Edition) Buy (UK Hardcover) Buy (CA Kindle Edition) Buy (CA Hardcover) Buy (Worldwide)

I’ve read and enjoyed some Maggie Stiefvater books, I own but haven’t yet read some Brenna Yovanoff novels, and while I’m not interested in any of Tessa Gratton’s works she seems like an awesome person on social media. The Anatomy of Curiosity is a great opportunity to get into the authors’ heads a bit to see how stories develop out of vague ideas.

Three different authors; three different approaches. Maggie starts with characters, Tessa begins with a world, and Brenna has a topic. They ask themselves questions, rule out possibilities in order to get to the heart of what they want to focus on, and sometimes they meander around in several different ways until finally figuring out what and how they want to say.

Maggie Stiefvater’s “Ladylike” sparked from an idea about an older woman and a teen. The story doesn’t particularly intrigue until the appearance of a guy in the woman’s apartment, and waiting for that to happen includes plodding through some pretentiousness. To the poetry’s credit, when checking on Wikipedia to determine if a poet mentioned in the story was real (he was), the word “algolagnia” added to my vocabulary, so that’s a positive.

When the lady talks about context, and how pieces of the creator end up in their creations, it makes you wonder. A common discussion among readers is how to deal with problematic authors – and by that, do we stop reading their books entirely? Or continue to read them, whilst knowing that some of the authors’ worse personality aspects may end up in their characters? Will disliking parts of the author affect enjoyment of their works?

Tessa Gratton’s idea of magical bombs is intriguing, but the way she tells it doesn’t really appeal to me. I have no interest in made-up lands; I prefer to read about real places. I’m definitely an urban fantasy fan, not one of traditional/epic/high.

But while the author’s inspiration focuses on world-building, based on “Desert Canticle” her strong point is characterisation. The big reveal doesn’t come until the story’s midpoint, but from then on the tale really makes a stand. If Tessa Gratton ever writes a contemporary, it would be awesome.

I’m not sure how to follow Brenna Yovanoff’s “Drowning Variations”, so I’ve decided that it shows several drafts of wandering and explaining, the author talking to the reader about how she found the right story in which to incorporate a teen drowning. And so I believe “The Drowning Place” is the REAL story, and everything else is just leading up to and discussing it. “The Drowning Place” is four-star quality. As for the other “variations”, they take the place of margin notes (which the other authors’ contributions had, but this one doesn’t).

The Anatomy of Curiosity shows how authors’ minds work in different ways, and may give readers new methods of idea development to try. It may not really connect as a fiction anthology, but as a reference text it’s well worth rereading.

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