J. Richard Jacobs

Books: Fantasy

Anthologies: Twisted Tails (2006)

Twisted Tails (2006)

This anthology probably wasn't meant for someone like me. It's an eclectic mix of short stories, of fantasy, mystery, science fiction, and horror. The problems is that I don't enjoy science fiction, and horror simply bothers me. (Horror leaves me feeling icky--a slight headache and an unpleasant feeling in the pit of my stomach. I know this isn't normal, but that's how I react to horror and stuff like it [I felt off kilter for a a full day after fishing Joyce Carol Oates's book Blonde.])

I realize that those are my personal quirks, so I'll avoid writing about the science fiction and horror stories in this collection, as I don't have the background and interest to judge them. However, there were a lot of stories that my brain categorized as horror, and many that were science fiction--probably more than half all told, so please be cognisant of the fact that I'm talking about maybe half the book.

There were several stories that were quite good. Marilyn Peake's Tiger in the Plum Blossoms jumps immediately to mind. I liked the style and the story, and although all the stories had twists at the end (hence the name, Twisted Tails) this is one of the stories where I didn't quickly guess what the twist was going to be. Plus, I have a strong fondness for Asian flavored stories, so that added to my enjoyment.

I found Steve Lazarowitz's story An Affair of the Mind especially amusing, because it was a riff on Sherlock Holmes, and I didn't expect it to go quite where it went. And although it had vampires, I quite liked A Matter of Grave Importance. Most likely because it wasn't horror (I find it strange that most of the vampire stories I've read recently are far more fantasy and mystery or even romance than horror.)

Peter Prellwitz's tale Eye for and Eye was also one I enjoyed, and one that twisted in an unexpected direction. A revenge story and a secret agent spy story all in one.

As a whole, there were several things that bothered me about this collection. First, like Kathleen Ragan's Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters, I hated the blurbs and bits that went each story. However, I learned my lesson this time, and just skipped them.

Secondly, this collection needed a much more editing than it got. Mind you, part of my day job involves copy editing, so some mistakes stand out more to me than they might to others, but things like ringing for wringing just threw me completely out of the story. Along those lines, I think that several of the stories needed tightened up--something that perhaps a good editor might have recommended. Several of the stories went into far more detail than I wanted and thought was necessary. If a story is only a couple of pages long, I don't really need paragraphs of details about the protagonist's face.

As a whole, this collection was a mixed bag. There were some stories that were quite good, and other stories that weren't quite as good as they could have been. As far as the science fiction and the horror, someone who reads and enjoys those genres would be a better judge than I. So if you're a straight up fantasy reader, this may not be the anthology for you. However, if your tastes are a little broader than mine, then this collection may be a better fit.

Twisted Tails (2006) e-book ISBN: 1-55404-339-5

Rating: 6/10