Tag Archives: Short Stories

Under the Emerald Big Top

Emerald_CircusThe Emerald Circus is a collection of short stories by Jane Yolen. All of them are previously published with the exception of The Bird, a tale based on Edgar Allan Poe. All of the stories in the collection are either based on another tale or a riff on a famous person. Three of the stories are based on Alice in Wonderland. Examples of inspiration for some of the other stories include: Hans Christian Andersen, Emily Dickinson, Peter Pan, Beauty and the Beast, Robin Hood, and Merlin.

All of the stories are well-written. The book includes an introduction by Holly Black. And at the end of the book, there are notes on each short story as well as a poem relating to each. I found even these endnotes enjoyable to read.

I enjoyed all of the stories, but I had a few favorites. Among those are: Sister Emily’s Lightship, Andersen’s Witch, Blown Away, and Evian Steel. All of them had excellent prose. And I felt the characterization of Emily Dickinson to be right on target in Sister Emily’s Lightship even though it is a fantastical tale.

I gave this collection 5 stars out of 5 stars for the quality of the writing. While each was a riff based on another tale or a historical person, I can say I’ve never read anything quite like them. And I love retellings and have read quite a lot of them.

This book is perfect for those who enjoy Jane Yolen’s writing as well as those who enjoy retellings.

The Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen was published November 14, 2017 from Tachyon.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions herein are my own and freely given.

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Varied Nightmares

nightmares_datlowThings that go bump in the night? Sure, but so much more than that. The stories are varied and run the gamut from horrifying to creepy to don’t turn your lights off scary. There was even a retelling of sorts of Hansel and Gretel. And don’t forget the zombies.

Ellen Datlow is an excellent editor. I believe she is a sort of expert in short story quality and in horror from her many years of editing the Best Horror of the Year series among other things. Authors included in the anthology are (in order of appearance): Mark Samuels, Gene Wolfe, Brian Hodge, Kaaron Warren, Lisa Tuttle, Gemma Files, Simon Bestwick, Nicholas Royle, Margo Lanagan, Steve Duffy, Laird Barron, Stephen Graham Jones, Reggie Oliver, Ray Cluely, M. Rickert, John Langan, Anna Taborska, Livia Llewellyn, Dan Chaon, Robert Shearman, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Garth Nix, Nathan Ballingrud, and Richard Kadrey.

As with most anthologies, I didn’t like all the stories equally. Some were better than others for me. A few I was puzzled as to why they were included. There was one story that used incest as an important part of the story. That one I could have done without entirely. It just wasn’t for me.

My favorites were: How We Escaped Our Certain Fate by Don Chaon, and the last 3 stories in the anthology. It was almost as though the best were saved for last, but the stories were arranged chronologically in order of year of publication. Datlow says of the stories included: “Consider them a guide to some of the best short story writers currently working in the field of horror fiction. And in this volume specifically, a good representation of the excellent horror that was published between 2005 and 2015.”

Overall, enough of the stories were satisfying for me to give the anthology a 4 out of 5 stars rating.

Nightmares: a New Decade of Modern Horror was released November 1, 2016 by Tachyon Publications.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Review: Doctor Who: Keeping Up with the Joneses by Nick Harkaway

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Doctor Who: Keeping Up with the Joneses by Nick Harkaway is a Time Trips series short story starring the Tenth Doctor. I read the Kindle edition which was published by BBC Digital February 6, 2014.

The TARDIS hits a temporal mine and it seems it has a bit of Wales stuck in its teeth or a storeroom or two. Somehow The Doctor finds himself in the library of a bed and breakfast belonging to a different Christine de Souza in Jonestown in this bit of Wales. And somehow there is a monster (Puh Puh Pom) after them as well. Structural integrity of the TARDIS is threatened too.

I only really had one negative comment here. At one point the Doctor dismisses explaining things as Timey Wimey and then later proceeds to get technical about how things work. Kinda felt like one or the other, but not both. And honestly some of the technical bits gave me a little headache, but that’s just me.

On the plus side, it is a  Doctor heavy story. It must have him in it to work. And it works well. Christine de Souza functions both as a part of the story and as a little bit of a companion. The story moves along quickly once things start happening. I had no problem suspending disbelief. It was an interesting story. Good suspense and good characterization. Ten is written true to form.

I liked it, but I didn’t love it. Found it confusing in spots. So, I give it 3 stars out of 5. I would recommend it to others who enjoy Doctor Who, especially the Tenth Doctor, and who don’t mind a little technical TARDIS jargon.

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