Not usually a great fan of fantasy, but this book was a
neat little surprise. Four decent,
entertaining and pretty unique tales, each individually penned by a different contributor,
set one Halloween in the moody, fictional melting pot of Argent City, a town
populated by supernatural beings and mythical shapeshifters living unnoticed alongside
us. Though generally pretty easy
reading, brooding but not dark, these are more pure stories than snippets of
tales, yet still there is an air of pulp about them – think Sin City for young
adults. There is more than a little metaphorical
allegory about this book in general, as Fae, vampires, dragon-descendants and shapeshifters
live side by side with humans in a very contemporary world. The tales are modern urban ones – a high
school kid who dreams of being a deejay; a crime scene cleaner desperate to get
her teeth into a real-life murder mystery; a comic book fan who finds herself
literally becoming her favourite heroine.
This is great fun for both adults and older kids, though perhaps more suited
at times to the former. I always enjoy
anthologies, and this little collection was a real treat, I have to say; I would
defy anyone not to enjoy it.
There were a couple of things about the book which perhaps weren’t
my cup of tea. I won’t lie, the second
story lost me a little (and my apologies to that particular author); I also nitpicked
a few issues with the proof at times.
Its contemporary aspect definitely leant toward the unrelenting inclusive
culture discourse so characteristic of our times, which of course I don’t have
any particular issue with – other than the fact, perhaps, that the continuous pronoun
reference to “they/them” every time the gender-fluid satyr was mentioned became
a little distracting; I simply could not stop finding it problematic from an orthodox
English language point of view. I certainly
won’t hold that against this cracking collection, though, which is so much more
than mere social commentary.
Well written and presented with genuine quality and
professionalism, sure, but most of all this book is good fun, without going too
far in any direction. These are mysterious
tales of the unexpected, with a real old-school feel; a traditional storytime format
for our modern times. I know there is
much more to come from this publishing house and its talented group of authors,
and I for one look forward to it with a great deal of anticipation. And I’m sure, if you like pure fiction, that
you’ll enjoy these as much as I did.
In : Book Reviews