Have you read this book?
Every now and then something comes along that reminds me of my love for short stories. Novels are still my go too, especially when it comes to writing reviews, but a good short story is like a cool sip of water on a hot summer day.
Beagle has assembled nineteen fantasy stories from new and kinda-sorta new authors, with original publication dates ranging back to 2014; some of these authors are already established and known. The stories are set mostly in present or near present day, and run the gamut from eerie, to fairytale-ish, to almost horror. Alas, those looking for Tolkienesque will be disappointed.
Some stories worked well for me (very well) while others left me scratching my head. As per my usual, I’ll offer some opinion on those stories that stood out for me, with the caveat that your choices might not be the same as mine.
- “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong
- “Selkie Stories are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar
- “Tornado’s Siren” by Brooke Bolander
- “Left the Century to Sit Unmoved” by Sarah Pinsker
- “A Kiss with Teeth” by Max Gladstone
- “Jackalope Wives” by Ursula Vernon
- “The Cartographer Wasps and Anarchist Bees” by E. Lily Yu
- “The Practical Witch’s Guide to Acquiring Real Estate” by A. C. Wise
- “The Tallest Doll in New York City” by Maria Dahvana Headley
- “The Haunting of Apollo A7LB” by Hannu Rajaniemi
- “Here Be Dragons” by Chris Tarry
- “The One They Took Before” by Kelly Sandoval
- “Tiger Baby” by JY Yang
- “The Duck” by Ben Loory
- “Wing” by Amal El-Mohtar
- “The Philosophers” by Adam Ehrlich Sachs
- “My Time Among the Bridge Blowers” by Eugene Fischer
- “The Husband Stitch” by Carmen Maria Machado
- “The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn” by Usman T. Malik
Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers, by Alyssa Wong
A modern story about a woman who uses on-line dating to find men to “feed” on, that feeding being absorbing their thoughts and emotions. The nastier the victim, the more delectable the meal. When she encounters a real murderer though, things start to get out of control and her urge to feed becomes overwhelming. Well done and creepy.
Left the Century to Sit Unmoved by Sarah Pinsker
A short story that would fit in Boy’s Life, if Boy’s life published stories about creepy swimming holes what swallow people whole. Brave (foolish?) local townsfolk jump off a waterfall into the pond underneath, only sometimes the jumper never surfaces and no body is ever found. it. A string story about temptation to do something in the face of the unknown and even dangerous.
A Kiss with Teeth by Max Gladstone
A slight (for me anyway) twist on the a Dracula tale. Anyway, it was new to me. Vlad the Impaler, married to a former vampire hunter, and attempting to raise his half-vampire kid in the city. He’s beset by temptations from his old life, and his vampire killer wife knows it. I liked it, but maybe I don’t read enough vampire fiction?
Jackalope Wives by Ursula Vernon
Set in the Southwest, one of my favorite regions, this was a great story with strong writing and fun twist at the end. Seems jackalopes are real, and they like to transform into women and dance under the moon. Men seek to capture them of course, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.
The Haunting of Apollo A7LB by Hannu Rajaniemi
Seems houses aren’t the only things that end up haunted. A woman who helped sew spacesuits receives a visitor with an unusual complaint; the spacesuit he purchased is haunted.
The One They Took Before by Kelly Sandoval
This one had a sort of Stephen King feel for me, and that’s not a bad thing. A darkish fantasy, we meet a character who is apparently suffering from a pretty bad case of Stockholm Syndrome, only her abductors aren’t your usual suspect.
The Duck by Ben Loory
This one didn’t really work for me, but I mention it because it’s a good example to illustrate the wide variety of fiction offered by this antho. The Duck tells the story of a duck who falls in love with a rock.
Wing by Amal El-Mohtar
A great story about meeting your true love and true love in general.
My Time Among the Bridge Blowers by Eugene Fischer
If you enjoyed Edgar Rice Borroughs stories, you’ll like this one. A man and his guide travel to a remote interior to meet up with a magical tribe of people who can walk on air. The style for me was fun, like a throwback to something written in the 1800s.
The Husband Stitch by Carmen Maria Machado
A relevant story about modern gender roles, relationships, and how society shapes our choices and the people we become.
The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn by Usman T. Malik
The longest story, this was a fun tale about a boy, his grandfather, a princess, and jinn (genie) that protected them. After the death of his grandfather, his grandson sets out to see if the old stories were true.
Overall a strong collection featuring talented authors, this anthology is sure to please anyone who enjoys “strange” fiction.Share