My Rating: 3/5 Stars
Date read: 06 July 2017
Verdict: Sadly uneven with a couple of brilliant stories.
Ready for the next big thing?
The New Voices of Fantasy spotlights nineteen breakout writers who are reinventing fantasy right now. Usman T. Malik, Sofia Samatar, Eugene Fischer, E. Lily Yu, Ben Loory, Maria Dahvana Headley, Ursula Vernon, Max Gladstone, and other emerging talents have been hand-picked by fantasy legend Peter S. Beagle (The Last Unicorn) and genre expert Jacob Weisman (Treasury of the Fantastic). International, crosscultural, and fearless, many of these rising stars have just or are about to publish their first novels and collections. They bring you childhood stories gone wrong, magical creatures in heat, a building that’s alive and full of waiters, love, ducks, and a new take on a bloodsucking fiend.
Sadly uneven. While there were a few really beautiful stories, overall I found this anthology not as great as it could have been. Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weismann collected short stories by authors they think will influence the future of fantasy. As such this is a very varied anthology with different outlooks on what constitutes “fantasy” as a genre. There were some really innovative story telling techniques employed and some stories I really adored – but some felt flat for me. I guess that is always going to be the case when it comes to anthologies this broad.
It took me a while to get into this collection as the first five stories did not particularly wow me. While I thought “Tornado’s Siren” (about a tornado who is in love with a girl) had a really interesting premise, the execution, especially in regards to the characters, fell flat for me; whereas “A Kiss with Teeth” just bored me to death – a vampire as a urban dad with midlife crisis just is not something I am very interested in. This is exemplary of how much of the collection read for me: many stories were just boring or not as well rounded as I would have liked.
But still, there were some stories I really, absolutely, completely adored:
Jackalope Wives by Ursula Vernon: wimsy, sad, poignant, and reminiscent of classical fairy tales with a twist: very much my thing.
The Haunting of Apollo A7LB by Hannu Rajaniemi: funny, quiet, political, unexpected, and wonderfully hopeful.
The One They Took Before by Kelly Sandoval: mean, sad, wonderful, difficult to get into at first but very rewarding in the end (oh the ending was so beautiful and hopeful and sad).
The Husband Stitch by Carmen Maria Machado: stunning, weird, feminist, sad, dark, wonderful. My absolute favourite of the bunch. And I am glad because I have been wanting to read her forthcoming debut collection for a while and now I cannot wait. This is just my type of dark magical realism that I adore in short stories. If you only read one of those stories: read this one.
I think this collection is broad enough to offer something for everybody – while this is a strength it also is a weakness as I found the anthology too uneven for my taste.
I received an arc of this book curtesy of NetGalley and Tachyon Publications in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for that!