book reviews by Althea

Fantasy – Sean Wallace, ed.

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“Like your fantasy edgy, modern, and sophisticated?” OK, if that’s not a pretentious, self-congratulatory tagline, I don’t know what is. But the stories collected here aren’t bad. This slim volume seems to be aimed at getting people to subscribe to ‘Fantasy’ magazine (Now ‘Lightspeed’).

**** Goosegirl – Margaret Ronald. A very effective re-telling of the old fairytale of a princess and a goose-herder who switch places on the way to meet the princess’ betrothed. Although this is a many-times-told tale, I feel this telling really did bring something new and original to the story, while maintaining its kernel.

** All the Growing Time – Becca de la Rosa. Aims for a surrealist meditation on time and a relationship. But it didn’t work for me – the style was distancing.

**** Somewhere Beneath Those Waves – Sarah Monette. Just read this in Monette’s collection of the same title. In a seaside town, a woman is caught in a loveless marriage, a selkie is trapped by the cruel man who has stolen and hidden her skin, and a creepy museum curator hold the spirits of female ship’s figureheads in his gallery. When the three elements come together, all will gain their freedom.

*** Shallot – Samantha Henderson. I don’t know why it’s spelled like the vegetable. What if the Lady of Shalott was an alien with hypnotic powers? I feel like I’ve read a very similar story about the Lady of the Lake.

*** Bone Mother – Maura McHugh. (Not Maureen McHugh.) A tale from the point of view of Baba Yaga. Not bad, not more memorable than average.

*** The Greats Come A-Callin’ – Lisa Mantchev. As an inheritance gift, a woman receives the ghosts of her ancestresses. There are both good and extremely inconvenient aspects to this.

*** Zombie Lenin – Ekaterina Sedia . A Russian girl is rather obsessed with zombies, and seems to see them following her around. Nice, works on multiple levels, but seems a bit like an early work by Sedia.

** The Yeti Behind You – Jeremiah Tolbert. The stress and fear brought about by hearing there’s a baby on the way manifest, for this man, as invisible extinct animals that follow people around. Didn’t really work for me.

*** The Salvation Game – Amanda Downum. A nice, dark, paranormal-action fantasy. Good fun.

*** Sugar – Cat Rambo. A plantation owner runs her factory by using golems, and is emotionally torn between two women – one, dying, one living, and her complicated relationship with both of them. (I know Britomart is a name from Greek mythology, but it always sounds like a 24-hour grocery store, to me.) The setup here was very nice, but the style was distancing, to me.

*** Brother of the Moon – Holly Phillips. In a war-torn land, a twin leaves his sister and goes to make some kind of sacrifice that may save the land. Again, a nice feel to this, but too many unanswered and undefined questions – like, if this magic was possible, why didn’t one of the twins do this much earlier? What exactly IS the sacrifice, what happens? It felt either unfinished or like an excerpt.


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