Bone Swans: Stories

C.S.E. Cooney et al.


“C. S. E. Cooney is one of the most moving, daring, and plainly beautiful voices to come out of recent fantasy. She’s a powerhouse with a wink in her eye and a song in each pocket.”
—Catherynne M. Valente, New York Times-bestselling author of the Fairyland novels

“Cooneyメs brilliantly executed collection of five stories is a delicious stew of science fiction, horror, and fantasy, marked by unforgettable characters who plumb the depths of pathos and triumph. … These well-crafted narratives defiantly refuse to fade from memory long after the last word has been read.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“In five beautifully crafted stories, Cooney builds imaginary worlds full of flying carpets, fairy-tale characters, and children confronted with a postapocalyptic Earth …
Each tale packs in enough plot for a novel, with adventurous characters who brim with wit.”
Library Journal

“Writing without ostentation and featuring characters who may be flippant, terse, or even tongue-tied, Cooney produces memorable prose propelled by extraordinary ideas…Faced with such twisted genius, Iメll say no more!”

“These stories are a pure joy. C. S. E. Cooney’s imagination is wild and varied, her stories bawdy, horrific, comic, and moving-frequently all at the same time. Her characters are wickedly appealing, and her language—O! her language. Lush, playful, poetic, but never obscure or stilted, it makes her magic more magic, her comedy more comic, and her tragic moments almost unbearable.”
—Delia Sherman, author of Young Woman in a Garden: Stories

“Intriguing and readable … I appreciated the whole mashup aesthetic of the mythic and the contemporary in terms of storytelling style, and I also just liked the pleasantness of the pieces themselves, with all of their happy endings and costs paid well for worthwhile things.”

Bone Swans is a joy of feathery bones & ghoulish clowns. I adored every word. Like an eyas cries for meat, I cry for more. C.S.E. Cooney’s a major talent and these are major talent stories. Who can resist hero rats, pouting swans, feral children, flying carpets and the Flabberghast? So tongue-tied am I with delight I fall back on the usual cliches: gripping, delightful, insightful, rollicking & lyrical—and yet not one cliche is to be found in Bone Swans, only stories of surpassing delicacy and wit, told by a lady of rare talent. Please, ma’am, might I have some more?”
—Ysabeau S. Wilce, Andre Norton Award winning author of Flora’s Dare

A swan princess hunted for her bones, a broken musician and his silver pipe, and a rat named Maurice bring justice to a town under fell enchantment. A gang of courageous kids confronts both a plague-destroyed world and an afterlife infested with clowns but robbed of laughter. In an island city, the murder of a child unites two lovers, but vengeance will part them. Only human sacrifice will save a city trapped in ice and darkness. Gold spun out of straw has a price, but not the one you expect.

World Fantasy Award winner Ellen Kushner has called Cooney’s writing “stunningly delicious! Cruel, beautiful and irresistible.” Bone Swans, the infernally whimsical debut collection from C. S. E. Cooney, gathers five novellas that in the words of Andre Norton Award winner Delia Sherman are “bawdy, horrific, comic, and moving-frequently all at the same time.” Cooney’s mentor, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Gene Wolfe, proclaims in his introduction that her style is so original it can only be described as “pure Cooney,” and he offers readers a challenge: “Try to define that when you’ve finished the stories in this book.”


  • Introducing C. S. E. Cooney by Gene Wolfe
  • Life on the Sun
  • The Bone Swans of Amandale
  • Martyr’s Gem
  • How the Milkmaid Struck a Bargain with the Crooked One
  • The Big Bah-Ha

More praise for Bone Swans

“C.S.E. Cooney’s Bone Swans is like visiting a literary Ys. Coaxed by her deft hand, lands and people long lost to memory resurface, breaking through the hearts of readers with the force of a gentle tsunami. Once that wave has broken over you, you are never the same.”
—Tiffany Trent, author of The Unnaturalists and The Tinker King

“If your familiarity begins and ends with C.S.E. Cooney’s poetry, do yourself a favor and stick around for these novellas. If you aren’t new to her stories, know that you will find her here at the top of her not inconsiderable game. Highly original, mythic in scope, lyrically told, just plain fun.
—Nicole Kornher-Stace, author of Archivist Wasp

“Like one of her characters, C. S. E. Cooney is a master piper, playing songs within songs. Her stories are wild, theatrical, full of music and murder and magic.”
—James Enge, author of Blood of Ambrose

“C. S. E. Cooney uses words like jewels, stringing them together on gold filigree sentences. Then she adds a beaded fringe of colorful characters-the living, the dead, the wronged, the righteous, the villainous, the vengeful, the divine. It’s a treasure chest of a collection, and it’s full of gems.”
—Sharon Shinn, author of the Elemental Blessings series

“These stories are rich, original fantasy with a sharp edge, peopled by vivid, engaging characters inhabiting fantastic worlds. This is a brilliant and thoroughly enjoyable collection.”
—Martha Wells, author of The Books of the Raksura series

“Cooney drafts lyrical prose that sparkles with brilliant imagery and compelling characters. I can’t wait to see what she does next!”
—Howard Andrew Jones, author of The Desert of Souls

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