The King in Yellow and Other Horror Stories ★★★☆☆

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Title: The King in Yellow and Other Horror Stories
Series: ———-
Author: Richard Chambers
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Horror (kind of)
Pages: 177
Words: 72K



Synopsis:

Consisting of the following short stories:

The Repairer of Reputations

The Mask

In the Court of the Dragon

The Yellow Sign

The Demoiselle d’Ys

The Prophet’s Paradise

The Street of the Four Winds

The Street of the First Shell

The Street of Our Lady of the Fields

Rue Barrée

My Thoughts:

The author of this collection states outright in the introduction that only the first 6 stories are truly related to the subject of the King in Yellow and that the rest of the stories are just romances about young people in some frenchified town. I was extremely thankful for that warning. It helped me finish the book instead of DNF’ing it.

I must say that I really enjoyed the stories that dealt with the story of the King in Yellow, however tangentially. Madness and weirdness, insanity and the supernatural, all mixed together without quite being able to tell which was which. It really hit my literary tastebuds and was delicious. If any of you have any suggestions for more King in Yellow reading, please drop me a line in the comments.

The romances on the other hand, were what dragged this down to a 3star read. They weren’t terrible like a Georgette Heyer romance, but neither were they anything near an Austen romance. They were mediocre stories about young people being all hormone’y and young people’ish. If that’s your thing, then have at it and enjoy.

I wish there was a site called TheKinginYellow.com where it listed all the books or stories associated so I could simply go down a list. By the by, I checked and some scumbag is holding onto that domain, trying to sell it for over $3000. I hope he goes mad. Anyway, it doesn’t seem that TKIY has the same fanbase and mythology as say Lovecraft, which means fanfics won’t be as extensive. Oh well.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Lockdown Tales (Polity #20) ★★★✬☆

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Title: Lockdown Tales
Series: Polity #20
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 329
Words: 151K



Synopsis:

A collection of short stories about the Polity as it becomes the Post-Polity. This consists of:

The Relict
Monitor Logan
Bad Boy
Plenty
Dr Whip
Raising Moloch

My Thoughts:

From what I could gather, the Polity didn’t collapse so much as it simply ceased to exist as the AI’s bootstrapped most of humanity up to their level and they all decided to stop playing government. The little clues make it seem like this all took less than 100,000 years. There’s no mention, that I can remember, of the newly raised Atheter or any mention of what happened to the Prador. While it all might have made sense in Asher’s head, to me it felt very “I’m bored with this particular literary construct, thus I’ll wave my authorial hand and …..”

Don’t get me wrong. Besides the first story where Asher lets his vitriol against religion take front and center, I enjoyed these stories. They all had his ultra-violence that I’ve come to expect from him as well as the techno-babble that I just skim over now.

What threw me for a loop was that these were not ALL post-Polity. Monitor Logan takes place squarely during the height of the Polity/Prador standoff and Bad Boy takes place on Spatterjay and involves a situation where the AI lets things run their course hoping the inhabitants will apply for Polity membership. It just made me feel like the secondary title on the cover What Comes After the Polity was misleading.

I think this might be a very good jumping on place for anyone new to the Polity. There are 19 previous Polity books and I can imagine it is daunting to a new person to figure out where they want to start.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Blood & Fire (V-Wars #2) ★☆☆☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Blood & Fire
Series: V-Wars #2
Editor: Jonathan Maberry
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 292
Words: 106.5K



Synopsis:

A collection of short stories that continue the look at vampires as they manifest throughout the world and how they and the humans of the world react.

My Thoughts:

A big fat sigh. Some more graphic sex, some more “vampires are just people” and some more of everything I complained about from the first book.

In many ways, it felt like the various authors were writing their own take on vampires without consulting the editor or having any master plan. One author presents them as soulless horrors who have lost all their humanity while another presents them as more human than the humans around them. It was a very mixed message.

Jonathan Maberry, the editor, has his own series called Joe Ledger, that’ll I’ll be checking out. I ran across a short story or two featuring Ledger that I enjoyed, so I’m hoping I’ll have better luck with that.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Menace of the Monster (British Library Science Fiction Classics) ★★★✬☆

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Title: Menace of the Monster
Series: British Library Science Fiction Classics
Editor: Mike Ashley
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 266
Words: 98.5K



Synopsis:

From Isfdb.org

The War of the Worlds (abridgement) • (1920) • short story by H. G. Wells

The Cloud Men • (1911) • short fiction by Owen Oliver

The Dragon of St. Pauls • (1899) • short fiction by Reginald Bacchus and C. Ranger Gull

De Profundis • (1914) • short fiction by Coutts Brisbane

Dagon • (1919) • short story by H. P. Lovecraft

In Amundsen’s Tent • (1928) • novelette by John Martin Leahy

King Kong • (1933) • short story by Draycot M. Dell and Edgar Wallace

The Monster from Nowhere • (1939) • short story by Nelson S. Bond

Discord in Scarlet • [Space Beagle] • (1939) • novelette by A. E. van Vogt

Monster • (1950) • short story by John Christopher

Resident Physician • [Sector General] • (1961) • novelette by James White

Personal Monster • (1955) • short story by Idris Seabright

Alien Invasion • (1954) • short story by Marcia Kamien

The Witness • (1951) • novelette by Eric Frank Russell

My Thoughts:

I went into this knowing that Ashley was going to blab before each story. Thankfully, there was a LOT less sociocultural BS than in the previous book. He actually talked about the stories and authors as stories and authors instead of as representative of this or that modern idea. I didn’t want to stuff a sock down his throat and choke him to death so that was quite the improvement from last time 🙂

With that being said, the stories here weren’t quite as engaging, hence the 3.5star rating. The War of the Worlds abridgement was just too short. It did make me want to seek out the full version though, so that’s something. King Kong was a short story based on the screen play and man, did it feel like it. I’ll take Jackson’s Director’s Cut of the movie any day. I’d read several others of these throughout the years so that familiarity helped ease me along.

Overall, this series is exposing me to authors that have disappeared or fallen out of the knowledge of even the SF community and it is very interesting to read such things. I like the short story format, as I’m not getting bogged down because an author can’t shut the feth up. I didn’t even realize how much I am starting to hate modern authors because of their bleeding wordiness until I started reading more short stories and the distillation of an idea instead of an expansion of the idea. As much as I loved Sanderson when he started, I’m not sure I can read much more by him. And don’t get me started on jackasses like Gwynne who think they’re somebody and have the right to pen tomes as newbie authors.

To end, this one went MUCH better even while some of the stories weren’t as good. I hope things can stay at this level.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Lord Peter Views the Body (Lord Peter Wimsey #5) ★★★✬☆

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Title: Lord Peter Views the Body
Series: Lord Peter Wimsey #5
Author: Dorothy Sayers
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 235
Words: 94K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia
(click the Details arrow to see the synopses)

The Abominable History of the Man with Copper Fingers

Members of London’s “Egotists’ Club” are telling stories of odd things that happened to them, when one of the member’s guests, a cinema actor named Varden, relates that he was invited to model for a wealthy sculptor, Eric Loder, and spent several months at Loder’s New York mansion. A few years later, after the war, Loder invited Varden back to New York, and Varden noticed that Loder’s mistress, Maria Moranno, had disappeared, though a life-size gilded sculpture of her now occupied the living room. One night, Varden was wakened by a “funny-looking man” wearing a monocle, who told him his life was in danger. For explanation, the man smashed the arm of the “statue” with a fireplace poker, and Varden saw a human arm bone beneath the gold plating. Varden fled the house immediately, though to this day he is not certain whether he really did narrowly escape death or whether someone played an elaborate practical joke on him.

Then the “funny-looking man” – Wimsey, also a member of the club – appears and explains the mystery: while Wimsey himself was a guest in Loder’s mansion, a small night-time accident led to him occupying a sofa in the living room, where he observed Loder entering a secret chamber. Entering the chamber himself, Wimsey found an apparatus for electroplating and diagrams drawn by Loder, revealing his plans to kill Varden and encase him in a gilded statue. After further investigation, Wimsey concluded that Loder killed Maria in jealousy, believing that she and Varden were lovers during his first stay in New York, and planned to kill Varden in the same fashion after he returned from his war service.

Wimsey goes on to relate that after Varden fled the house, Wimsey confronted Loder with a pistol in the secret workshop. Loder tried to outmaneuver Wimsey by shutting off the lights and then rushing him, but tripped and fell into the vat of cyanide to be used in the electroplating process, dying almost instantaneously. While Wimsey fumbled to turn the lights back on, he inadvertently switched on the current to the copper wire Loder was gripping, which transferred copper plating to his hands. Loder was found the next morning, and his death was ruled an accident, while Wimsey took Maria Moranno’s encased body to a local cemetery and gave it a Christian burial with the aid of a sympathetic priest.

The Entertaining Episode of the Article in Question

Peter and Bunter are waiting in line at Saint-Lazare in Paris, when Peter overhears a conversation from a young woman in line that makes him curious, particularly when he notes that the woman and her companion are also taking the same train to Calais, and crossing the Channel to Dover. After patient investigation, Peter meets with his mother’s friend, the Dowager Countess of Medway, warning her that someone is planning a burglary during her granddaughter’s upcoming wedding. He believes he knows who the thief is, but cannot prove it unless the theft is allowed to take place.

Peter also alerts Charles Parker, who has men on guard during the wedding. A brief uproar arises when the bride’s famous diamond necklace, brought out of the family vault for the occasion, is reported stolen, but the thief and her accomplice are caught red-handed. Peter shocks the assembled wedding party by exposing the Dowager Countess’s French lady’s maid as a man in disguise, Jacques le Rouge, a.k.a. Jacques sans-Culotte, a notorious safecracker, burglar and female impersonator. Jacques admits defeat, asking Peter how he knew. Peter explains that while waiting in the line at Saint-Lazare, he overheard Jacques, while dressed as a woman, use the masculine article “un” instead of the feminine “une.” Jacques congratulates Peter for a mastery of the French language probably unique among all English people.

The Dowager Countess is initially outraged that Peter knowingly allowed her to be dressed, undressed, and assisted to bed by a man, but then laughs off the whole affair, reminiscing that she was a famous beauty in her youth, who attracted the attentions of many young men.

The Fascinating Problem of Uncle Meleager’s Will

The disposal of a dead man’s fortune depends on his penchant for cross-word puzzles.

The Fantastic Horror of the Cat in the Bag

A high-speed chase and a lost bag converge with a gruesome discovery.

The Unprincipled Affair of the Practical Joker

A lady pleads for Lord Peter’s help in retrieving a valuable necklace, and more importantly, a portrait with an indiscreet inscription.

The Undignified Melodrama of the Bone of Contention

Lord Peter, visiting friends in the country, sees a ghostly carriage, hears rumours of an odd will, and deduces that foul play is afoot.

The Vindictive Story of the Footsteps That Ran

Lord Peter deduces the whereabouts of a cleverly hidden murder weapon.

The Bibulous Business of a Matter of Taste

Lord Peter’s celebrated palate exposes two impostors seeking a secret formula.

The Learned Adventure of the Dragon’s Head

Viscount St. George appears as a boy as Lord Peter uses clues from a rare book to find a treasure.

The Piscatorial Farce of the Stolen Stomach

Involving several Scotsmen, a digestive organ, and a handful of diamonds.

The Unsolved Puzzle of the Man with No Face

Prompted by a discussion with strangers on a train, Lord Peter investigates the murder of a man whose face was disfigured after death.

The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba

Lord Peter infiltrates a den of ruthless thieves; notable for unusual technology.

My Thoughts:

This was a good entry in the series. A selection of short stories worked perfectly for me and kept my attention without making me feel “Ok, get on with it already”.

Some stories worked better than others and the last one did NOT work for me. Faking his own death for 2 years just to catch a gang of high tech thieves seemed a bit ridiculous to me. And it made me realize how old he is. He was 37 at the time of his fake death. I also don’t understand why he’s still single. I seem to vaguely recollect that he’s married in later books but might be confusing him with his official detective partner Charles Parker. Either way, he’s not Batman/Bruce Wayne so he should be married. And that’s my final answer.

Other than those odd complaints, this was just what was needed. I really like collections of short stories if they are done well. None of this 800 page “world building” crap where the author destroys any chance of allowing the reader to use their imagination. None of this 800 pages of “character development” where the author makes the character more important than the story. Sayers tells a story using the titular character and she does it well. But they are the vehicles and the story is the point. I appreciate, so much, that approach to story telling. It is sadly lacking in today’s books and is probably one of the reasons I’m not drawn so much into modern SFF.

Going slightly off topic here. I don’t understand why authors like Sayers, and McKillip, aren’t mentioned more by those who want more women writers. They seem to be completely ignored by the very people I would have thought would be searching them out and bringing them to a new generation. Part of it, I suspect, is the style of writing. “Kids these days” just don’t want this sparse, utilitarian and yet excellent kind of writing. Heaven help us, they might have to use their imaginations! Maybe it’s a genre thing? Most of the mystery series that I’ve dipped my toes into have been penned by women but I don’t hear their names bandied about at all nowadays. Ok, I’m done blabbering.

The main reason this got a 3.5 instead of a 4 is because in one of the stories Wimsey is talking with someone who’s french and Sayers doesn’t translate it. She expects her readers to be able to read french. She obviously was NOT part of the Freedom Fries movement of the 00’s, otherwise she’d know better. To be honest though, I don’t feel like I really missed out on anything by not being able to read a couple of paragraphs.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Innocence of Father Brown (Father Brown #1) ★★★✬☆

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Title: Innocence of Father Brown
Series: Father Brown #1
Author: G.K. Chesterton
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 269
Words: 78K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

“The Blue Cross”, The Story-Teller, September 1910; first published as “Valentin Follows a Curious Trail”, The Saturday Evening Post, 23 July 1910

“The Secret Garden”, The Story-Teller, October 1910. (The Saturday Evening Post, Sep 3, 1910

“The Queer Feet”, The Story-Teller, November 1910. (The Saturday Evening Post, Oct 1, 1910)

“The Flying Stars”, The Saturday Evening Post, 20 May 1911.

“The Invisible Man”, The Saturday Evening Post, 28 January 1911. (Cassell’s Magazine, Feb 1911)

The Honour of Israel Gow (as “The Strange Justice”, The Saturday Evening Post, 25 March 1911.

“The Wrong Shape”, The Saturday Evening Post, 10 December 1910.

“The Sins of Prince Saradine”, The Saturday Evening Post, 22 April 1911.

The Hammer of God (as “The Bolt from the Blue”, The Saturday Evening Post, 5 November 1910.

“The Eye of Apollo”, The Saturday Evening Post, 25 February 1911.

“The Sign of the Broken Sword”, The Saturday Evening Post, 7 January 1911.

“The Three Tools of Death”, The Saturday Evening Post, 24 June 1911.

My Thoughts:

While this series is categorized as a mystery, it’s not Sherlock or Wimsey or even Wolfe. Father Brown doesn’t go around looking at a thread caught on a bush and extrapolate the life story of the perp and then reveal him to the authorities. No, Father Brown studies the nature of fallen humanity, discovers the culprit and tries to get them to do the right thing, whether repentance or turning themselves in.

Chesterton was a converted Catholic and as such, Father Brown is pretty strong on his catholic doctrine. At the same time, it really didn’t come across as Chesterton trying to preach or convert his readers. He was trying to tell a great story first and for me, it worked.

The main thing that worked best for me though was the short story aspect. Chesterton wrote each story for a magazine back in the day and then had them collected later. I didn’t have to power through a whole novel and I could stop between stories without losing anything. I appreciate that simplicity and lack of tangled complexity that a lot of modern books seem to deliberately aim for.

One interesting aspect that stood out to me was that in several of the stories the villain of the piece took poison rather than face public justice. That happened in one of the Lord Peter Wimsey books too and I wonder if it was a “sensibility of the times” thing? I don’t think of the bad guys of today taking poison but either fighting or flight’ing or of readers caring one way or the other. I’ll be keeping an eye out to see if it happens in any more stories.

A good addition to my reading rotation. Since I am also reading several other mystery series, I am going to be switch hitting the Complete Works of Chesterton with the Complete Works of the Sisters’ Bronte. That way I don’t Mystery myself out 🙂

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

V-Wars (V-Wars #1) ★★★✬☆

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Title: V-Wars
Series: V-Wars #1
Editor: Jonathan Maberry
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 405
Words: 154.5K



Synopsis:

From Vwars.fandom.com

Conceived of and edited by Bram Stoker Award-winner Jonathan Maberry, V-Wars: is an anthology series of ‘eyewitness accounts’ and ‘frontline reports’ from the vampire apocalypse. After an ancient virus that causes vampire-like symptoms is accidentally released during an Antarctic expedition, humanity must scramble to survive. In this collection of interconnected but unique tales, contributing authors Nancy Holder, Yvonne Navarro, James A. Moore, Gregory Frost, John Everson, Keith R. A. DeCandido, and Scott Nicholson offer gripping accounts of a world spinning towards war and destruction.

My Thoughts:

The “synopsis” was the best I could find without writing my own. A set of authors all write multiple short stories about a character and Maberry, the editor and one of the contributors, weaves the stories all together into one tapestry. So you’ll get a chapter from Maberry about Character X, then a chapter by Navarro about Character A, etc. Most of the characters have no overlap and are written so as to give a broader view of the events happening.

Which basically is that vampires make a huge comeback and how humanity deals with it. This was what I want in a vampire story. Vamps kill humans in one way or another, bloody and violent and it’s all kill or be killed. The thing is, one or two characters are perfectly slotted into the “Woke” side of things and bleat about vamps and it not being their fault and we just have to understand and try to get along with them. They were perfectly done and it took all of my mighty might to appreciate that instead of raging at a fictitional character.

The main reason this is getting only 3.5 instead of 4 is because along with the blood and violence associated with vamps, we also get the sexual side of things. There were too many near explicit scenes for me to be comfortable with. If this trend continues in the next book I’m afraid that it will be the last book in the series I read.

Right at the end there is a character who is revealed as an anti-vamp. She’s a werewolf and transforms in the presence of vampires and kills them. It was awesome!

In many ways this reminded me of the Necroscope series in both good and bad ways. That was another vampire series I had to stop, so we’ll see what happens with this one.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Menace of the Machine (British Library Science Fiction Classics) ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Menace of the Machine
Series: British Library Science Fiction Classics
Editor: Mike Ashley
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 257
Words: 95.5K



Synopsis:

Table of Contents

Moxon’s Master
Ambrose Bierce

The Discontented Machine
Adeline Knapp

Ely’s Automatic Housemaid
Elizabeth Bellamy

The Mind Machine
Michael Williams

Automata
S. Fowler Wright

The Machine Stops
E. M. Forster

Efficiency
Perley Poore Sheehan & Robert H. Davis

Rex
Harl Vincent

Danger in the Dark Cave
J. J. Connington

The Evitable Conflict
Isaac Asimov

Two-Handed Engine
C. L. Moore & Henry Kuttner

But Who Can Replace a Man?
Brian W. Aldiss

A Logic Named Joe
Will F. Jenkins

Dial F For Frankenstein
Arthur C. Clarke

My Thoughts:

I had not read, or even heard of, 3/4’s of these stories, so this was a good collection to expand my knowledge of classic SF. Considering that some them date back to the 1890’s, that’s as classic as you can get! Of course, there was also a reason I had not heard of most of these.

While not universally depressing, the tone is definitely set by the title. I had to remind myself several times that this was not a collection about the indomitableness of the human spirit but what humanity could let itself in for. It was interesting to see how almost every single author believed that man’s creation was somehow greater than mankind and they blithely threw out statements about how complicated and wonderful the machines were and how simple and primitive the human body was. It really showed a complete lack of understanding about biology and an acceptance of the roar of evolution that was just coming into being then.

The biggest reason this got 3 stars from me and no higher was because of the fething editor sticking in his nose. Just like in the collection Worst Contact, this editor (Mike Ashley) has a little chat with the reader about the author of the upcoming story. Maybe that works for a lot of people but when I saw that on the first story I gritted my teeth and groaned. Then when I saw it for the second story I knew this was going to be the format. Unfortunately, I am not disciplined enough to skip them and besides, why should “I” have to skip them, why didn’t the editor skip them? I believe I used a lot of words in my head like sycophant, lickspittle, buttkisser and useless sod. Instead of allowing me to read the stories and judge on their own merit, Ashley has to include a bunch of data that ruined the whole experience for me. Besides ruining the flow the collection! I’ve got 4 or 5 more of these British Library series edited by Ashley and I’m going to do my hardest to skip his idiotic blathering and useless drivel and generally disgusting toejam munching.

To summarize, the stories were enjoyable on a variety of levels but the editorializing ruined the whole thing for me.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Noir Fatale ★★★★☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Noir Fatale
Editors: Larry Correia & Kacey Ezell
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 296
Words: 120.5K



Synopsis:

A collection of short stories that are all femme fatale themed in some or other. Here is the table of contents, ie, the list of stories with their authors:

AIN’T NO SUNSHINE: Christopher L. Smith and Michael J. Ferguson

RECRUITING EXERCISE: David Weber

SPOILS OF WAR: Kacey Ezell

THE PRIVILEGES OF VIOLENCE: Steve Diamond

A GODDESS IN RED: Griffin Barber

KURO: Hinkley Correia

SWEET SEDUCTION: Laurell K. Hamilton

A STRING OF PEARLS: Alistair Kimble

HONEY FALL: Sarah A. Hoyt

THREE KATES: Mike Massa

WORTH THE SCARS OF DYING: Patrick M. Tracy

THE FROST QUEEN: Robert Buettner

BOMBSHELL: Larry Correia

My Thoughts:

At 4stars, I obviously enjoyed this. Unfortunately, much like in Correia’s Monster Hunter Files, there was ONE story that just annoyed the viss and pinegar out of me. So let me get that out of the way then I’ll go into all the good stuff.

Exactly like MHF, there was one urban fantasy story from a long running series. Unlike Jane Yellowrock, Anita Blake managed to annoy me in a new way. Where Jane was an asshole with an attitude, Blake was a completely competent, beautiful and “everything else” woman, with such huge inadequacy issues that THEY were as big as Yellowrock’s attitude. You want to write that in your novels, to your target audience of women, go for it. But packing in a whole novels worth of feelings of inadequacy into a short story? While I was never going to read anything by Hamilton anyway, that story cemented that determination. It was well written, I actually liked the premise, but my goodness, the “feelinz” just about made me gag.

The other stories on the other hand, I pretty much enjoyed across the board. My favorite though, was the one by Correia. It is a Grimnoir story set in the 1950’s and my guess is it is being used like Detroit Christmas was, ie, to introduce the main character of the new Grimnoir trilogy that Correia has promised is on its way. Grimnoir Chronicles is my favorite by Correia and once the new trilogy is completed, I’ll re-read the original and dive into the new. I am very excited about that prospect, even if it is years down the road. I’ve waited this long, I can wait some more.

Each story has a femme in some sort of pivotal role. Not always front and center, but without them, the story would simply fall apart. I’d never heard of Ezell before, but after this I’ll probably go check out what else she has written to see if it aligns with my tastes. She was the driving force behind this anthology and since I enjoyed it so much I’m hoping I like her full length novels.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Wonders of the Invisible World ★★★★☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Wonders of the Invisible World
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 276
Words: 98.5K



Synopsis:
  • “Introduction” by Charles de Lint
  • “Wonders of the Invisible World” (from Full Spectrum 5, Aug. 1995) – a researcher goes back in time to record Cotton Mather’s religious visions, finding his ravings not what they expected.
  • “Out of the Woods” (from Flights: Extreme Visions of Fantasy, Jun. 2004) – a reflection on how magic is often missed by those searching for it.
  • “The Kelpie” (from The Fair Folk, Jan. 2005) – a story of courtship and obsession illustrating the overlap between life and art.
  • “Hunter’s Moon” (from The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest, May 2002) – a seductive, chilling encounter with the dangers of Faerie.
  • “Oak Hill” (from The Essential Bordertown, Aug. 1998) – an ugly young woman on the way to Bordertown is trapped in a terrifying cityscape known as Oak Hill, and explores it in search of magic.
  • “The Fortune-Teller” (from The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales, Jun. 2007) – a young woman thieves a pack of strange cards from an unconscious roadside fortune-teller.
  • “Jack O’Lantern” (from Firebirds Rising: An Anthology of Original Science Fiction and Fantasy, Apr. 2006) – a young girl struggling with the impending marriage of her sister seeks out magic during a picnic, fearing it will her last chance before she grows up.
  • “Knight of the Well” (from A Book of Wizards, May 2008) – a society built around the veneration of water finds that element inexplicably rejecting them.
  • “Naming Day” (from Wizards: Magical Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy, May 2007) – a teenage witch who cannot decide on her magical name is compelled to chase after an imp during the titular Naming Day Ceremony.
  • “Byndley” (from Firebirds: An Anthology of Original Fantasy and Science Fiction, Sep. 2003) – a man who once escaped the world of faerie seeks to return that which he stole.
  • “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” (from A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales, Jul. 2000) – a macabre retelling of a traditional fairy tale.
  • “Undine” (from The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm, Jun. 2004) – a water spirit falls victim to her own prey.
  • “Xmas Cruise” (from Christmas Forever, Nov. 1993) – a surreal tale that follows two couples aboard an environmentalism cruise.
  • “A Gift to Be Simple” (from Not of Woman Born, Mar. 1999) – a fictional pseudo-Christian religious faction realize that their numbers are dwindling and decide to take drastic action.
  • “The Old Woman and the Storm” (from Imaginary Lands, Dec. 1985) – an allegory.
  • “The Doorkeeper of Khaat” (from Full Spectrum 2, Apr. 1989) – a science fiction tale regarding two alien species with very different cultures, and the poet who attempts to cross that divide in search of meaning and art.
  • “What Inspires Me: Guest of Honor Speech at WisCon 28, 2004”
My Thoughts:

I was sure that when I read Harrowing the Dragon last year that that was my last McKillip read until I started the cycle again. I’m not even sure how I stumbled across this book of her short stories but stumble I did and so I have one final McKillip to read and review.

McKillip is an odd duck when it comes to short stories. Some of them are so fantastic that you wonder why she doesn’t stick with the format. Then you read some others and are like “Oh, that is why”. Some of these just ended, like she’d taken a butcher’s knife to the story. It was very disconcerting. Others, you could see the same genius flitting about the story that she exhibits when writing her novels.

I did enjoy the final chapter where she talks about her life and writing. Now, as many of you know, I am firmly of the camp of “Authors are not People” so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading her recollections. I do need to track this down in hardcover and get a copy for my collection.

Rating: 4 out of 5.