I’ve only picked up short story collections relatively recently, I (exceedingly) foolishly thought that they might not be good as a full length novel.
This book, Fearsome Magics (edited by Jonathan Strahan), proves I could not have been more wrong.
Inside we have stories from Garth Nix, K.J. Parker, Justina Robson, Ellen Klages, Christopher Rowe, Isobelle Carmody, Tony Ballantyne, James Bradley, Karin Tidbeck, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Frances Hardinger, Kaaron Warren, Genevieve Valentine and Robert Shearman. ( I didn’t want to leave anyone out)
I enjoyed every single one of the stories in this anthology and highly recommend you go and read them all. But I thought that perhaps the best way to do a review was to pick some favourites and go into detail about those and then do a round up, so without further ado!
‘Home is the Haunter’ by Garth Nix
This was one of the longer stories in the anthology and did take a little longer to get into (but still not that long, I mean there’s not that long altogether!). A story of Sir Hereward and Mr Fitz, who just happens to be a living puppet, it took a little time to get drawn into the world but when I was I did not want to go anywhere. Once the story got going I could barely put it down, the writing was fantastic, the pacing was excellent, and the characters were outstanding. As soon as I finished this story I set out to find out more about Sir Hereward and Mr Fitz and purchased a collection of short stories on them.
‘Grigori’s Theorum’ by Isobelle Carmody
I don’t think I have anything bad to say about this story. A story about the end of the world, it gave me chills. The imagery that Carmody brought up and the feelings of sheer inevitability and acceptance just blew me away and I have been telling people about this story all week. Seriously, I thought it was amazing, an interesting concept exceedingly well told.
“The Changeling” by James Bradley
A haunting tale really blurring the lines between what might actually be magic and what we might just want to perceive. Exploring a theme of escapism and social acceptance this particular short story did stay with me for its ambiguity in its ending. Bradley definitely pushed his protagonist to the edge.
All in all I think this a very strong anthology with a collection of stories that are all wonderful, creepy, epic, and heart-breaking all at once. To say that I would recommend this short story collection would be a bit of misdirection. I have already recommended this anthology several times to friends. It has strong female characters, teddy bears, maths, and a village jam and preserve competition. What more could you want?
If you need something to occupy your mind for an hour and you want something that will stay with you and you can get your teeth into, grab a steak and this book.