SELECT * FROM uv_BookReviewRollup WHERE recordnum = 1544 Boondocks Fantasy, edited by Martin H. Greenberg Book Review |

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Boondocks Fantasy, edited by Martin H. Greenberg
Genre: Fantasy Anthology
Publisher: DAW
Published: 2011
Review Posted: 8/6/2013
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated

Boondocks Fantasy, edited by Martin H. Greenberg

Book Review by Joshua Palmatier

Have you read this book?

This is obviously a take on the "urban" fantasy trend in the market right now, taking us back to the sticks instead of into the city streets. I enjoyed most of the stories in this anthology and it was good overall. One story stood out above the others--Brian A Hopkins' Black Rider--but there were plenty of good stories in here. A good range of lighthearted all the way up to rather dark. My favorite "light" story was Raymond Benson's The Devil is a Gentleman. Here are my thoughts on each individual story:

The Giant by Gene Wolfe: The opening story takes us on a walk into the woods with a man trying to understand what changed his wife so drastically when she journeyed into the woods alone as a child. He's warned away from the right-hand path, but of course he takes it. I thought the idea behind this story was cool, but felt it needed a little bit more work on the ending.

Protection by Timothy Zahn: This story takes a shepherd who's a werewolf and mixes in the mob, who find they're WAY out of their depth when they hit the sticks. This was a great story, well-rounded and satisfying.

Lake People by Chris Pierson: Here we have an "eccentric" elderly woman living on a lake who surrounds herself with handmade elves, dragons, and other creatures in an attempt to protect herself from the Lake People. Of course, no one believes there are really Lake People, and when the number of handmade creatures verges on insanity . . . well, it doesn't end well. *grin* A good story, with an ending I wasn't expecting.

Cat People by Mickey Zucker Reichert: When the barn catches fire on this farm, the only animals the owner manages to save is a cat and her litter of kittens. Thinking their dreams of a quiet, rural life have ended, the couple is surprised by the way the cat thanks them. A cute story with just enough alien-ness to make you shiver and wonder what you'd do if it happened to you.

The Horned Man by Steven Savile: The setting here is the hinterlands near Stockholm, where a couple runs into trouble when their car hits a "moose" and breaks down in the middle of a vicious storm. I was expecting what happens after that . . . except that the connotations of the ending left me uncomfortable. I thought more attention should have been paid to the woman, her plight and her emotional state after what happens. It wasn't addressed at all, and it should have been.

The Feud by Patrick McGilligan: We get an interesting set of characters here, stereotypical backwoods hicks . . . except they're all dead. The feud between the two families is fairly standard . . . until we hit the end, where they find some common ground to stand on. Can't say much more without giving away the twist at the end.

The Devil Is a Gentleman by Raymond Benson: This story made me smile, with one of the demons acting as a P.I. in a small Texas town. He only goes after the truly evil though, none of this "cheating husband" stuff. An interesting take on the devil working in our own world. Well written as well.

Eternal Vigilance by Dylan Birtolo: Set in a swamp, we have a wizard who's captured . . . something and is keeping it contained beneath the waters. But the wizard learns he really can't let his guard down . . . ever. I liked the main character, but thought the ending was rushed.

The Taste of Strawberry Jam by Elizabeth A. Vaughan: Some inner city kids, part of a gang, stumble into trouble when they attempt to steal the wrong person's purse in this story. I liked this story; the ending made me smile.

The Storyteller by D.L. Stever: Here we have a pair of kids listening to the strange stories told by Old Josie Miller, one of their mother's friends. The stories are standard, and it's all a set-up for the twist at the end. I thought it needed a little more development though.

Being Neighborly by Anita Ensal: This is sort of a reverse boondocks story, in that the people from the sticks head into the suburbs... and run into a neighborhood being taken over by some nasties. Some good old fashioned backwoods pluck and the use of an iron skillet bring things back under control. One rather disgusting use of the skillet here, but a great story overall. One question though: what happened to the biscuits?

Marfa by Anton Strout: The title refers to the name of the town in Texas where this is set, which has some interesting urban legends. And that's what this story plays off of--while driving, sleepy, in the dark, the main character hits something in the road... we've all heard this one before right? Except it's not what you think at all. A solid story from Anton here.

Aware by C.J. Henderson: This story is much more tongue-in-cheek than the previous one, about alien abduction in the sticks and the tabloid sensationalist news reporter that investigates it. An interesting twist on aliens and what will destroy our world in the long run, unless the aliens and the reporter can stop it.

Sully's Solution by Kelly Swails: Here, a local small town cop is asked to look into Sully and what he's doing at his out-of-the-way trailer. Seems the local high school kids have been partying at his place lately. The cop decides to visit and finds that Sully isn't selling what everyone in the town thinks.

Trophy Wife by Vicki Johnson-Steger: This is REAL back sticks, a lone man living on his own, hunting, fishing, and collecting trophies for his wall. He's always wanted to catch that massive sturgeon in the local lake, but when he lands it . . . it isn't quite what it seems. A rather nasty twist at the end of this one.

Fairies Weep Not by Linda P. Baker: A visit to her grandparents has a young woman revisiting her childhood when she discovers the land around the house she remembers has completely changed. Instead of the vibrant forest and green land, it's now been plowed under and the crops look weak, the creek dammed up, everything sickly and dying. She discovers why, and then has to decide to take action.

Siren Tears by John Lambshead: A rather arrogant man needs a break from his shady dealings at his job (and the threat of getting caught), so heads into the country for a breather... only to discover that there are things in the boondocks he should REALLY be worried about catching him. This story was set "across the pond," which was a nice change of pace and provided an interesting different kind of boondock.

Jefferson's West by Jay Lake: This story provides an alternate history of what Lewis and Clarke might have found in the west on their epic journey. A short story, but very atmospheric, which is typical of Jay Lake stories.

Black Rider by Brian A. Hopkins: An incredibly good story about a man attempting to escape his own grief and passion after the death of a loved one. Dark, atmospheric, and interesting, set in the desert of the southwest. Definitely one of my favorite stories in this anthology.

Rural Route by Donald J. Bingle: A different take on cattle mutilations, written from the perspective of a farmer and an employee of the CDC who's looking to track disease vectors and ends up tracking something else instead. Kind of a dark way to end the anthology, but I see why it was placed here. This one starts in the boondocks and then spreads to the cities.
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