Review: Fearsome Magics

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.

My Very Quick Write Up of the WFC2013

Well then, it’s time for a write up of the World Fantasy Convention.

I think it’s important to note at this point that this was my first convention, world or otherwise, that is specifically centered around fantasy, and definitely my first coming at it with a professional interest in the industry and genre.

So I’m not really sure what I was expecting but boy howdy was I not disappointed!

It was a fantastic weekend (and I’m sure I bored my family when I got home with tales of panels and meeting new people), the panels were interesting, everyone was friendly and there was some really great other events on too. All of the publisher’s parties were great fun and it was just astounding to be in the same room with so many important and fantastic people! I won’t lie to you there was some slight hyperventilation to start with (hmm, perhaps from this point forward I’ll try to sound less like a fan-girl).

I feel like there’s almost too much to talk about! And regretfully I didn’t take any pictures (a couple of Patrick Rothfuss’ reading but they’re super blurry), well apart from all the books that had to be hauled homeward!

The panels were all very interesting, ranging from whether women can write legitimate martial fantasy (spoiler alert: they definitely can), how to follow up writing with that pesky second book, world building, short story writing and everything in between! So I’ve come out of the convention with loads of ideas and there was even a panel on editing and putting together a short story anthology (so keep your eyes peeled for some news like that next year…), and what it’s like being a small independent press.

The art dealers room I found very cool, especially as I seem to have an unusual fascination and love of how books are designed and the end product. So there was much snooping around the artist room to see what cover art there was an even some snooping with covers for something I’m now thinking about (see above bracketed hints).

That’s also one of the reasons that I’m so excited with the Bragelonne sample book with translated excerpts of some of their fantasy works. I always find that the French edition covers that I’ve found to be some of the most exquisite of those on the market and really bring elements of the story to life before you’ve even picked up the book.

In a lot of ways, for me, it was an eye-opener for some unsung aspects of the publishing industry, like the short stories, the anthology editors and the agents. I’ve come into contact with some of these in my short time in the publishing industry but it was also really nice to see them explored in such an accessible and excellent manner.

Everyone was really friendly and it was quite a quest if you wanted to find someone that wasn’t smiling (not that I did, mind you)!

On a personal  note I was thoroughly ecstatic to see Mr Patrick Rothfuss do a reading ( I’m going again to the Forbidden Planet one in London) and it was a phenomenal reading. Mr Rothfuss said he wasn’t sure if it worked well if it was read out, but I think my goosebumps can attest that it works just fine!

And listening to the authors and the panels on various aspects of writing really helps you appreciate so much more the dedication, effort and skill that goes into a truly wonderful piece of writing.

So that’s all I’ve got to say on the subject for now, no doubt I shall think of more later on and curse myself for not telling you about it! But, thank you for stopping by everyone, and I’m sure you can tell that from all the exclamation marks how excited I was/am by the convention!

Until next time: be well, be kind, and have fun!