Title: All the King’s Men
Author: Jeffrey Ford
In: Mad Hatters and March Hares (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Medieval fantasy
Format: Short story
5th sentence, 74th page: In a flash, Dumpty’s eyes imploded, his lips crumbled, his arms snapped, and when they did, I had to wonder for a second when and from where he’d acquired arms… and legs?
Humpty Dumpty has fallen and broken into many pieces. The king wants his sister-in-law to repair the damage he’s done, but what will the final cost truly be?
I loved this take on the tale of Humpty Dumpty. He is gross, creepy and annoying. And yet there is a weird connection between him and the king. The fact that this weird, grotesque relationship is told through the eyes of an inventor and the queen’s sister kind of makes it all the more fun. Alongside the word spinning and twirling that seems to be an aspect of anything influenced by Lewis Carroll.
I thought this story would just be about the assassination of Humpty Dumpty and the consequent way in which ‘all the king’s men’ tried to put him back together again. So I was kind of surprised when the story continued after this point. And it just kept getting better and better. And better.
The ending of this short story is one that sticks in my head. That beautiful imagery that lingers long after you have turned the final page.
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