I’m a sucker for my favorite authors. So when I saw a gorgeous cover featuring Holly Black’s name, I couldn’t help but investigate. Furthermore, I discovered that her story in particular was about vampires, and that many other people wrote about monsters, and I decided — what the heck? It’s as good a time as any to read my first short story anthology.
I wasn’t disappointed, but I was really conflicted.
- Author(s): Edited by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt. Featuring Kelly Armstrong, Holly Black, Neil Gaiman, Garth Nix, Carrie Ryan, Margaret Stohl, and more.
- Publisher: Little, Brown
- Year: 2013
- Shelved in: Teen fantasy and adventure
- In general: the tagline reads “new twists on timeless tales”, and I suppose that sums it up.
So this is a hard thing to review. Short stories aren’t my favorite things on the planet, and a lot of these were…just plain weird. One thing that really caught me off guard was how the book was put together with the illustrations in the middle. I ended up ignoring them after the first one, because they confused me. I assumed that they were all relevant to the story that had come before them, but then I thought maybe they were a preface to the next story, and all in all I ended up having to look around a little before I could get my bearings and read like a normal human being.
Not a great start.
Once I got past that, however, I was decently impressed. I had a couple of favorite stories, a couple that let me down in the end, and a few that just plain disturbed me.
Holly Black’s Millcara was obviously and undoubtedly my favorite. Holly Black is a goddess forever and ever amen and every piece of her writing is just…fantastic. Admittedly this is the first of her short stories that I’ve read so far, but it was positively delicious. Holly Black never disappoints.
Another favorite was Saladin Ahmed’s Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy. It was captivating in a distant way that I completely didn’t expect going into it, and it’s one that I’d like to read a few more times for how beautiful it was. The images of it were striking, and I was interested to find myself tearing up a little at the end. It was one of the few stories that actually managed to get any actual emotion out of me.
My third favorite was Margaret Stohl’s Sirocco. It wasn’t particularly atmospheric, or emotional, or striking, or anything like any of the others were. But it was…it was fun. I seriously enjoyed reading that story, and the setting was great as well, and juts overall it was a really great few pages.
I have mixed feelings on When First We Were Gods by Rick Yancy. It made an impression, and it wasn’t strictly disturbing like some were (*glances meaningfully at Uncaged), and it was well written and all. But I didn’t exactly enjoy it either.
One that let me down severely was The Soul Collector by Kami Garcia. It was AWESOME and INCREDIBLE and then…cut short. Cut very very short. Similar feelings on New Chicago by Kelly Armstrong. I’m not in general a fan of open-ended-endings, and these ones were way too open ended. Mostly because both of them had such a great atmosphere, and all I wanted to do was stay in it.
By far the weirdest were Uncaged by Gene Wolfe, which really just disturbed me for some reason. Losing Her Divinity by Garth Nix, which I just couldn’t get into. And then a strange did-you-scare-me-in-a-bad-way-or-did-I-like-you tie between When First We Were Gods and That the Machine may Progress Eternally. Both stories were really well put together, but just not…enjoyable.
So all in all, this book was definitely worth the money. I mean, come on, look at it, am I right? But it wasn’t amazing, and it didn’t make me love anthologies any more than I already didn’t.
- Rating: 3/5 stars
- Recommended to: I honestly don’t know quite who I’d recommend this too. The stories are so, so varied in genre and feel and message and intensity and everything. So I guess, if you like strange things and short stories and really nice covers, go ahead and pick it up.
- Lasting impression: “WAKE UP. Wakeupwakeupwakeupwakeup. Even if you wake up and hate me.” –Millcara; Holly Black