Ekaterina Sedia

Books: Fantasy

The Secret History of Moscow (2007)


Running with the Pack (2010)

The Secret History of Moscow (2007)

The Secret History of MoscowI both enjoyed this book and found it frustrating.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story, which drew heavily upon Russian folklore. However, at times the writing bothered me. Some of the descriptive prose was phrased in ways that took me a moment to parse, and in the moment threw me out of the story.

But mostly I really enjoyed the story. I'm a huge fan of folklore, and I loved seeing characters from Russian mythology and folklore appear: Rusalka, Father Frost, Koschey the Deathless. (Now I want to go back and read my books on Russian folk and fairy tales.)

Galina, Yakov, and Fyodor are residents of Moscow, each unhappy with their lives in their own way. All three are drawn together when they discover that all over Moscow people are disappearing–and are being turned into birds: jackdaws, crows, owls. Their search for the missing people leads them to discover the underground–a world that exists beneath–or perhaps parallel–to the modern world, and where those who are lost or no longer accepted, be they gods or mere humans, can go.

Initially, I found the end of the story dissatisfying–it didn't seem quite fair. But after thinking about things for awhile, I decided that the ending was both appropriate and satisfying, but it did take some getting used to.

If you are a fan of folk and fairy tales, then you will definitely want to read The Secret History of Moscow. Although it has its weaknesses, the story within the covers more than makes up for them.

Rating: 7/10


Running with the Pack (2010) edited by Ekaterina Sedia

When I saw there was a new werewolf anthology edited by Ekatrerina Sedia with a story by Carrie Vaughn I automatically ordered it. Then of course, once it arrived, it sat around like anthologies tend to do, waiting for the "right" time to read it. But eventually read it I did, and it was excellent, with a few caveats, the biggest being, the anthology should not have ended on the story it did. On the plus side (and this is huge plus in my opinion) these are stories that deal with werewolves without all the hawt supernatural sex. A couple stories acknowledge sex, but the focus of these stories is upon the other aspects of being a werewolf, which I very much enjoyed, because there is a lot to explore in this mythos and this anthology does a very good job of moving beyond the paranormal romance aspect of werewolves.

The anthology opened with Carrie Vaughn‘s story Wild Ride, which was not about Kitty Neville, but instead about a young man, T.J. who has just been diagnosed with HIV. I really like that Carrie not only didn't fall back on a story with an already familiar character, but that she instead wrote a very different kind of character from what she normally writes. Plus, it a very good story (and as a bonus, no boinking!).

I did not like Steve Duffy's Side-Effects May Include, but that's because it was a tooth/dentist story, and I am creeped out by dentist stories. (I blame Christopher Folwlers short story On Edge for that.)

Jeffrey Ford's story, The Beautiful Gelreesh and Samantha Henderson's Skin in the Game also looked at werewolf stories in a different way, though each took the werewolf mythos in a different direction. Of the two, I like Skin in the Game a tad better, though I really liked the direction The Beautiful Gelreeshwent.

C.E. Murphy‘s story Blended, like a couple others in the series, discards the idea that werewolves are immortal (or at least very long lived) and instead gives them a wolf span of years as opposed to a human span of years–which puts an interesting twist on things.

Stephanie Burgis' story Locked Doors was another of the sad stories, this time told from the point of view of the son of a werewolf, and how he deals with a father who can't do simple things such as go to parent-teacher conferences.

Laura Anne Gilman‘s story Werelove was another very good one, and although it deals with love, it remains boink free.

Molly Tanzer's In Sheep's Clothing was a straight up horror story, but the horror came not from the rending of flesh, but with how the main character reached the point she did. Good, but not particularly my thing.

Mike Resnick's Royal Bloodlines (A Lucifer Jones Story) was fun and amusing. Even though Lucifer Jones is obviously an existing character, the story loses nothing from that.

The Dire Wolf by Genevieve Valentine is another story that deals with love, but in an unexpected way. I liked this story very much.

Take Back the Night by Lawrence Schimel was OK, but felt like something I'd read many times before.

Maria V. Snyder's story Mongrel was another that I quite enjoyed, with an outsider's view of werewolves. Several of the stories in this anthology are about outsiders and how they come to see and believe in werewolves, and what would cause someone to want to become a werewolf, in this case the story is from the point of view of a young homeless woman who cares for lost dogs.

Deadfall by Karen Everson is about teenagers and werewolves, and what it's like to grow up being very different from your peers. This was another of my favorites in the series.

Red Riding Hood's Child by N.K. Jemisin was one of the few stories that dealt with sex, however, it did so in a manner true to the original Red Riding Hood story (which was, of course, all about sex) which made it fit the series. But despite that it wasn't a story I particularly liked.

Geoffrey H. Goodwin's story, Are you a Vampire of a Goblin was odd, and although interesting in where the story went, it felt to me like a story that had something to tell you, but I couldn't quite figure out what the message was.

The Pack and the Pick-Up Artist by Mike Brotherton was another odd story, but it did amuse me. But really, a weekend boot camp to teach guys how to pick up women?

Blamed for Trying to Live Jesse Bullington was another story about teenagers and the struggle for identity, but it felt more like a psychotic break rather than a supernatural story.

The Barony at Rodal by Peter Bell was a story I must have re-read parts of multiple times, but still didn't get it.

The next to last story, Inside Out by Erzebet YellowBoy, I wish had been the last story in the book. It's dark, but the ending is far less depressing than the final story in the book.

The final story was Susan Palwick's Gestella, which was very good, and a different take on the werewolf mythos. Unfortunately, it was also extremely depressing, and instead of closing the book with a contented sigh, I closed it with a feeling of misery and gloom. It just felt like the wrong note upon which to close an otherwise excellent anthology.

All in all, this is an excellent anthology, and one I can highly recommend.

Published by Prime

Rating: 8/10