I try to pick up fantasy anthologies when I see them, since chances are they won’t be there the next time I look. I picked up Maiden, Matron, Crone while ago, but saved it to read during the school year, because short story collections are much easier to put down than books.
Some of the stories in this collection were good, some were so-so, and a couple were quite excellent. And there weren't any stories that I absolutely hated, which is always a good thing. The best part of this collection, however, is that if focused on female characters, and for the most part strong female characters.
A Lingering Scent of Bacon - Brenda Cooper
A Choice of Ending - Tanya Huff
Strikes of the Heart - Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Misery and Woe - Jean Rabe
In Sight - Charles de Lint
The Gift - Jody Lynn Nye
Bearing Life - Devon Monk
Advice from a Young Witch to an Old Priestess - Rosemary Edghill
The Three Gems of the Fianna - Fiona Patton
The Things She Handed Down - Russell Davis
Seeking Gold - Jane Lindskold
Opening Her Door - Alexander B. Potter
The Unicorn Hunt - Michelle West
The excellent category started with Nina Kirki Hoffman's story "Strikes of the Heart." From what I have read, Nina Kirki Hoffman has been very good about writing good and unusual stories. It's always good to come across the unexpected, and so far her stories have all been just that. In this story, a young woman discovers that her grandmother's magic is failing and that she is the only one who can take her place and protect the land.
One of the reasons I picked up this anthology was because it contained a Charles de Lint story. "In Sight" is an evening spent with Ruthie Blue, a middle aged Newford folk musician. I suppose that's one of the nice things about books--you can have middle aged women in your stories, without someone telling you to make them younger and more attractive. I'm hoping that he will write more stories about Ruthie Blue, because I found her a very interesting character.
Devon Monk's "Bearing Life" was another story with a middle aged hero, this time, a queen who has lost her children and her husband, and rules alone in a besieged country. I like the way that Queen Thera dealt with her problems, and I liked the story, even though the very end wasn't a surprise.
Also good were Fiona Patton's story "The Three Gems of the Fianna," which read a bit like the Celtic tales I like so much, and Alexander Potter's "Opening Her Door," which was a twist on the tales I typically find in female centered anthologies.
The concluding tale, "The Unicorn Hunt" by Michelle West was very good. I'm pretty sure that I have one or two Michelle West books around here, and I think I'm going to have to find and read them.
Published by DAW
As I have mentioned on many previous occasions, I am a huge fan of short stories. Occasionally I have been disappointed, but for the most part the anthologies I have read have good, especially the one edited by Martin H. Greenberg.
The theme of Children of Magic is (as you would guess from the title) children with magic and the ability to change the world around them. The major problem with this review, however, is that I only read a one or two stories at a time, and then left the book on the headboard for a few weeks while I was reading something else (anthologies are good for that). So it actually took me several months to read Children of Magic as it dropped to the bottom of the pile in favor of whatever I was currently reading during the day (or sometimes something more boring, to put me to sleep.)
Mr. Death Goes to Washington - Alan Dead Foster
Nethan's Magic - Jody Lynn Nye
Touching Faith - Alexander B Potter
The Horses of the High Hills - Brenda Cooper
An End to all Things - Karina Sumner-Smith
After School Specials - Tanya Huff
Titan - Sarah A. Hoyt
Shades of Truth - Jana Paniccia
The Winter of Our Discontent - Nancy Holder
The Rustle of Wings - Ruth Stuart
Basic Magic - Jean Rabe
Fever Waking - Jane Lindskold
Starchild Wondersmith - Louise Marley
Far from the Tree - Melissa Lee Shaw
The Weight of Wishes - Nina Kiriki Hoffman
The Trade - Fiona Patton
Shahira - Michelle West
Unsurprisingly (at least to me), my favorite story in the anthology was Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s story “The Weight of Wishes” (in fact, the fact she had a story in this anthology was part of the reason I picked up this book). Will and Beth have two children, one of whom is a magic user and is barely under control. But on Christmas, Lisa’s powers create unexpected gifts for her entire family, that may change not only Lisa’s ability to control her magic, but also the family’s ability to deal with Lisa.
“Touching Faith” by Alexander Potter was another story I liked, especially when the boy decides that his path will require a Southern accent.
Another very good story was Brenda Cooper’s “The Horses of the Wild Hills”. Carly tries to protect her mother–from herself as much as far everyone discovering her drinking, but she also has to protect and care for herself–something an eleven year old girl is not necessarily capable of doing. What I particularly liked was Carly’s discoveries not only about the world, but also about her self and her strengths and weaknesses.
When I started reading Karina Summer Smith’s story “An End to All Things” I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. However, once I got into the story and figured out what was going on (in some ways it was as much science fiction as fantasy, and adjusting to strange technology is sometimes difficult for me) I quite enjoyed it. Although I never did quite understand why she didn’t “register.”
“Titan” by Sarah A. Hoyt was another story I very much enjoyed. It tells how Leonardo da Vinci gained his powers, from the point of view of one of Leonardo’s childhood friends.
I found the rest of the stories adequate, but not anything particularly I’d go out of my way for. Some of that may have been that several stories were about teenagers, and I tend to dislike stories about teenagers unless those characters are very well written. (I remember all to well what it was like to be a teenager, and dislike reliving those feelings.)
So if you like anthologies, you may want to pick up this collection. Or you could wait and see if any of these stories ends up in a “Year’s Best” collection.
Published by DAW
“King of the Kingless” by Jay Lake
“Speechless in Seattle” by Lisa Sliverthorne
“Thy Neighbor” by Nancy Holder
“Somebody Else’s Problem” by Annie Bellet
“A Thing Immortal as Itself” by Lee Allred
“Geriatric Magic” by Stephanie Writt
“Red as Snow” by Seanan McGuire
“Music’s Price” by Anthea Sharp
“The Sound of My Own Voice” by Dayle A. Dermatis
“The 13th Floor Problem” by Dean Wesley Smith
“Dead Men Walking” by Annie Reed
“One Good Deed” by Jeanne C. Stein
“Fox and Hound” by Leah Cutter
“The Scottish Play” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
This is another anthology I realized I wasn’t ever going to read all the stories in, so here is a review of the stories I did read.
“Red As Snow” by Seanan McGuire
This story is set in her InCryptid world, and features two characters from the first books, Istas and Ryan.
I was not the firstborn female of my litter, but the dead are not the family of the living.
I like Istas because she is so very foreign and strange–much like one would expect a Waheela would be. Her thoughts are not ours, and although she likes humanity, she is not human.
“Fox and Hound” by Leah Cutter
Ages and ages ago I read Leah Cutter’s book Paper Mage and loved it. Then, for some reason, never ended up buying anything else by her (probably because it wasn’t anything I could find locally).
Now that I’ve read this, I really don’t know why I haven’t sought out more books by her.
Gou is a rickshaw driver in Hong Kong, and when he picks up a very unusual customer, he doesn’t accept things as they are.
Rating: 9/10 (based only upon the two stories I read)
Published by WMG Publishing, Inc.