A collection of six long stories – which makes it a bit hard to give an overall rating. Definitely above-average, though, with a few of my favorite authors in the mix!
Tanith Lee – UOUS
Full of elements of disparate fairy tales, but mainly a mix of Cinderella and Tam Lin(?) – maybe. The girl with the nasty stepmother and awful stepsisters is in modern-day Britain, and the fairy lover doesn’t do quite what one might expect. I enjoyed this one quite a lot.
Megan Lindholm – Grace Notes
Unusually humorous and uplifting for a Megan Lindholm story. Also set in the modern day, a solitary young man seems to have a brownie or house elf cleaning his house for him. Seems nice – but weird. And the brownie’s taste in decor doesn’t really suit. Still, things don’t home to a head until the bill comes due… and then he might need a neighbor’s help to extricate himself from the mess.
Kim Newman – The Gypsies in the Wood
This seemed, to me, more like an excerpt from a novel than a short story. I think the main ‘investigator’ in the story may feature in some of Newman’s novels. This tale puts two children lost in the woods and possibly taken by fairies into Victorian-ish times. When the two children seem to re-appear, one is an adult, and no one believes that he might be the same boy who disappeared. His sister, however, looks just as she did. Not bad, but I didn’t personally care for it as much as some of the other selections here.
Patricia McKillip – The Kelpie
Oooh, this is definitely one for anyone who loves the Pre-Raphaelites. The characters here are all fictional, but it takes place amidst a group of artists and models clearly modeled after Rossetti & co. A woman artist arrives on the scene, and is delighted to find another female painter who invites her participate in her salon… however, another artist pressures her into modeling for him, and his attentions soon progress to the level of blackmail. It takes an encounter with the titular kelpie to bring things to a head. Lovely, powerful story.
Craig Shaw Gardner – An Embarrassment of Elves
I’ve read at least one other story featuring the characters in this story. I didn’t like it, and I don’t like this one either. This is just not my flavor of humor; I’m sure it will suit others.
Jane Yolen & Midori Snyder – Except the Queen
This story reminded me quite a lot of a Charles de Lint story. Through a series of letters between two sisters, we learn that the two elderly women are actually fairies in exile, banished to human realms. They believe the reason for their banishment is a prank they played on the Queen of Faerie, which didn’t go over well. But when each encounters a troubled human, they begin to suspect that their tribulations may be for some other reason…