Monday, August 8, 2016

Queen Victoria's Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gas Lamp Fantasyedited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (2013)

I think anthologies of short stories are always a mixed bag; "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" is an apt phrase for collecting short stories in one place.    This bag, however, was more mixed than usual.  Delia Sherman's "Queen Victoria's Book of Spells" was the right story to begin with (and name the anthology for) because it was one of the best stories in the whole collection - charming and funny, the kind of story you want the author to expand into a novel and entire universe (although in just a few words, Sherman flushed out her gaslamp universe really quite well).  Jeffrey Ford's "Fairy Enterprise" ranked up there with Sherman's, and had a touch of creepy horror to it that made it fun to read.  I liked Maureen McHugh's "The Memory Book" (more fantasy crossed with horror) although I kept expecting someone to be "wished into tv land."

Kathe Koja's "La Feine d'Enfer" had incredible characters, and the end left me wanting more - and a so wanting something else (I didn't care for that end).  Elizabeth Wein's "For the Briar Rose" was almost magical realism; I came away wanting to read more about the pre-Raphaelites.

I loved Elizabeth Bear's "The Governess" and unlike Sherman's story for example, this was perfectly encapsulated - I didn't need to read more, or explore this universe more; it was perfect.   And so sad.  And scary too.   A touch of Jane Eyre here, with - but no spoilers.  

I didn't care for the latter half of this book, but hey - to each his own. 


Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp FantasyQueen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy by Ellen Datlow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Upon reflection, I enjoyed this book of short stories far more than I thought I was doing while reading it. I think my main annoyance was that the title "gaslamp fantasy" meant one thing to me (Nesbit, Diana Wynne Jones, Caroline Stevermer) but the majority of the stories weren't like that at all. There were some real stinkers (the plague of the anthology) but I ended up liking some of the stories immensely. Delia Sherman's story, from which the anthology took its name, was delightful; I wanted more from this universe. And conversely, I loved Elizabeth Bear's "The Governess" because it was perfectly encapsulated - I didn't need to read more, or explore this universe more; it was perfect. And so sad. And scary too. A touch of Jane Eyre here, with - but no spoilers. I can't say don't read this, just come in with no expectations.



View all my reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive

Followers