Tag Archives: Ellen Kushner

Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Overview
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Title: Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers: Magical Tales of Love and Seduction
Author: Ellen Datlow, Terri Windling, Storm Constantine, Delia Sherman, Joyce Carol Oates, Tanith Lee, Edward Bryant, Garry Kilworth, Michael Swanwick, Elizabeth E. Wein, Pat Murphy, Ellen Steiber, Jane Yolen, Dave Smeds, Neil Gaiman, Doris Egan, Melissa Lee Shaw, Kelley Eskridge, Brian Stableford, Conrad Williams, Mark W. Tiedemann, Ellen Kushner, Wendy Froud & Bruce Glassco
In: Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Lust, Paranormal fantasy, Paranormal romance, Short story collections
Dates read: 6th January – 19th May 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: EOS
Year: 1998
5th sentence, 74th page: She abruptly saw herself as if from another’s eyes, toiling in dirty work clothes with the sharp blades, the mirror, the powdered remains.

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Synopsis

Prepare to be seduced by powerful magic — the sorcery of lust, need, and sensuality. Multiple award-winners Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling have gathered together twenty-two tales of unearthly temptations wickedly concocted by some of today’s most potent literary conjurers — including Neil Gaiman, Jan Yolen, Michael Swanwick, and Joyce Carol Oates. Here are stories of incubi and succubi, of forbidden fruits harvested in erotic gardens, of pleasures that persist beyond death. So heed the sirens’ song. Lie back, relax, and submit to the darkest delights you have ever experienced.

Thoughts

This collection isn’t quite toe curling, it isn’t quite horrific, but a nice mix between the two. It makes you think about the weirdness of sexuality. And the uniqueness of those things that go bump in the night. And thrive upon our sexual, deepest, darkest desires. I was honestly expecting this to be a little more of an uncomfortable read. However, mostly, I just found it intriguing.

This is a great collection of some very familiar authors, and some very new authors. It was a good way to depart from the realities of the world and be entertained by the imaginations of some very creative people. It wasn’t necessarily my favourite collection ever, the thread tying each of these tales together wasn’t as distinct as other collections. But it was a seriously enjoyable journey regardless.

This is definitely a collection that I’ll pick up again at some point in the future. It’s fun, light and easy. Also, there are a number of authors that I still need to hunt out books for… I enjoyed each and everyone of these stories.

<- ToadMy Lady of the Hearth ->

Image source: Goodreads

The House of Nine Doors by Ellen Kushner

Overview
Image result for sirens and other daemon lovers book cover

Title: The House of Nine Dorrs
Author: Ellen Kushner
In: Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Lust
Dates read: 13th May 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: EOS
Year: 1998
5th sentence, 74th page: You know how to help him get over that, surely.

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Synopsis

There are nine doors. Each and every one a doorway to your temptation. Your dreams. The things that make you want.

Thoughts

I really enjoy the little twists and turns that you find throughout Kushner’s short stories. Nothing is ever as it seems, and that intriguing, twiney journey always has a surprising ending at the completion. One that I always rush towards, because I like to be surprised.

Lust seems to be a pretty common occurrence in a lot of the books that I’m reading at the moment. So a story that is entirely based around a pleasure house. And entirely based around lust fits right into that theme. And no, I don’t know why it seems to be such a theme in my reading lately. It just kind of is. The secrets of lust and enjoyment in this story though feel almost pure… and made me love this short story even more.

Even the subheading for this short story is a great little hint in the subheading. The double entendre in this continues throughout the rest of the story, the dialogue, everything has a double meaning. Definitely the kind of short story that I think I’ll discover more and more each time I reread it.

<- Private WordsPersephone, Or Why The Winters Seem to Be Longer ->

Image source: Goodreads

Naked City edited by Ellen Datlow

Overview
naked-city

Title: Naked City
Author: Ellen Datlow, Jim Butcher, Delia Sherman, Richard Bowes, Ellen Kushner, Christopher Fowler, Patricia Briggs, Pat Cadigan, Peter S. Beagle, Naomi Novik, Matthew Kressel, Kit Reed, Lavie Tidhar, Nathan Ballingrud, Melissa Marr, John Crowley, Holly Black, Jeffrey Ford, Lucius Shepard, Caitlin R. Kiernan & Elizabeth Bear
In: Naked City (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Short story collections, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 28th June – 26th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: Out in Brooklyn in a couple of spots you can walk down a street and almost think it’s a hundred and twenty-five years ago.

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Synopsis

In this thrilling collection of original stories, some of today’s hottest paranormal authors delight, thrill, and captivate readers with otherworldly tales of magic and mischief. In Jim Butcher’s “Curses”, Harry Dresden investigates how to lift a curse laid by the Fair Folk on the Chicago Cubs. In Patricia Briggs’s “Fairy Gifts”, a vampire is called home by magic to save the Fae who freed him from a dark curse. In Melissa Marr’s “Guns for the Dead”, the newly dead Frankie Lee seeks a job in the afterlife on the wrong side of the law. In Holly Black’s “Noble Rot”, a dying rock star discovers that the young woman who brings him food every day has some strange appetites of her own.

Featuring original stories from twenty authors, this dark, captivating, fabulous, and fantastical collection is not to be missed!

Thoughts

This is a seriously diverse collection of urban fantasy short stories. Not to mention fun and engaging. Probably moving right to the top of my list if I’m being honest. Normally my purview of urban fantasy is kind of small. But the breadth and width of these stories and the style in which they’re written… just wow.

I loved the fact that most of these short stories were standalones. I used to really enjoy finding new series through short stories and novellas. But, I have so many now that sometimes just reading a standalone without having to hunt out more of that world (I’m obsessive, I do this EVERY time) was kind of nice. I got a great taste of the imaginations and storytelling talents of a variety of authors, without actually feeling the need to buy more, more, more. Honestly, there is nothing worse than finding myself a new series to obsess over and then realising that I have a whole slew of new books to buy…

Although this is an urban fantasy collection, it does have a darker twist to it than usual. Every single one of these stories is a little bit dark, a lot bit fun and most don’t have a happy ending. Which, I tend to love, because I get a bit over all the happily ever afters… but it’s definitely something to keep in mind as you rip through the stories.

<- CorpsemouthCurses ->

Image source: Patricia Briggs

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Overview
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Title: Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells
Author: Ellen Datlow, Terri Windling, Delia Sherman, Jeffrey Ford, Genevieve Valentine, Maureen McHugh, Kathe Koja, Elizabeth Wein, Elizabeth Bear, James P. Blaylock, Kaaron Warren, Leanna Renee Hieber, Dale Bailey, Veronica Schanoes, Catherynne M. Valente, Ellen Kushner, Caroline Stevermer, Jane Yolen, Gregory Maguire, Tanith Lee & Theodora Goss
In: Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fantasy, GaslampShort story collections
Dates read: 8th June – 6th November 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Tor
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: The sisters and I said nothing to one another, as I speak no German and they no English, but we watched the flames together until they seemed satisfied and departed, I know not where.

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Synopsis

Gaslamp fantasy, or historical fantasy set in a magical version of the nineteenth century, has long been popular with readers and writers alike. Many wonderful novels, such as Stardust by Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and The Prestige by Christopher Priest, ower their inspiration to works by nineteenth-century writers, including Jane Austen, the Brontes, Charles Dickens, and Anthony Trollope. And, of course, the entire steampunk genre and subculture owes more than a little to literature from and inspired by this period.

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells is an anthology for everyone who loves neo-Victorian fiction and modern fantasists using vintage settings, characters, and themes. Their approaches stretch from steampunk fiction to the Austen- and Trollope- inspired works known as fantasy of manners. The result is eighteen stories by experts from the fantasy, horror, main-stream, and young-adult fields, including both bestselling writers and exciting new talents, who present a bewitching vision of a nineteenth century enhance (or cursed!) with magic.

Thoughts

This is an absolutely brilliant collection. One that I didn’t want to put down and introduced me to a whole new genre. It’s my first ever Gaslamp collection, and although I found some of the stories throughout a little weird and intense… I also loved the vast majority of them. Enough so that I plan to read this again and again in the future.

I was expecting a pretty simple and balanced collection. I really wasn’t expecting such a convoluted and twisted set of stories. But, as I’ve often found in life, it’s those unexpected surprises are the best and most exciting aspects of life. They’re the moments that you don’t want to forget because they were unplanned. And this anthology kind of felt like that.

I tend to read a lot of short stories late at night. Or when I’m just needing a quick little break from the many complexities of my PhD. This is not the collection that does that for me. It’s seriously intense, completely unexpected and very full on. The kind of short stories that you want to read when you have your concentrating brain working… not when it’s late at night and you just want some easy entertainment…

 <- Poe ReviewQueen Victoria’s Book of Spells Review ->
Image source: Amazon

The Coyote Road edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Overview
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Title: The Coyote Road
Author: Ellen Datlow, Terri Windling, Pat Murphy, Carolyn Dunn, Steve Berman, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Christopher Barzak, Delia Sherman, Richard Bowes, Ellen Klages, Patricia A. McKillip, Theodora Goss, Charles de Lint, Katherine Vaz, Caroline Stevermer, Midori Snyder, Michael Cadnum, Ellen Kushner, Elizabeth E. Wein, Kim Antieau, Will Shetterly, Kelly Link, Holly Black, Carol Emshwiller, Jedediah Berry, Jeffrey Ford, Jane Yolen & Kij Johnson
In: The Coyote Road (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Mythology, Short story collections, Tricksters
Dates read: 11th March – 24th October 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
Year: 2007
5th sentence, 74th page: She handed me a message, one that read I was to be married to a stranger.

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Synopsis

Coyote. Anansi. Brer Rabbit. Trickster characters have long been a staple of folk literature – and are a natural choice for the subject of the acclaimed Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s third “mythic” anthology. Twenty-six authors, including Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles), Charles de Lint (Little (Grrl) Lost), Ellen Klages (The Green Glass Sea), Kelly Link (Pretty Monsters), Patricia A. McKillip (Ombria in Shadow) and Jane Yolen, have crafted stories and poems drawing from cultures and traditions all over the world – each surprising, engrossing, and thought provoking. Terri Windling provides a comprehensive introduction to the trickster myths of the world, and the entire book is highlighted by the remarkable decorations of Charles Vess.

The Coyote Road, like its companions The Green Man (winner of the World Fantasy Award) and The Faery Reel (a World Fantasy Award Finalist), is essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary fantastic fiction.

Thoughts

This collection took a long time to read. Yet, I absolutely adored it. Mostly it took a while to read because there were so many short stories filling the pages, and whenever I finished one, I often went searching for more stories by the authors I was discovering. My wishlist has grown by leaps and bounds since starting this collection.

Like many of the Ellen Datlow collections lining my shelves, the theme and collected authors in this are brilliant. Each and every story is perfectly curated to match into the theme of Tricksters. Often in surprising and confusing ways. After all, the prefect trickster never does what is expected, and many of the stories in this managed to take me by surprise.

I would suggest this collection to anybody who loves short stories, fantasy, mythology, tricksters… really I would just suggest it to almost anyone. There are sad stories and happy ones. Insanely complex tales and ones that are so beautifully simplistic. Definitely one of those collections that I’m going to read again and again.

 <- The Cinderella Game Anthology ReviewOne Odd Shoe Review ->
Image source: Amazon

The Vital Importance of the Superficial by Ellen Kushner & Caroline Stevermer

Overview
Image result for queen victoria's book of spells ellen datlow book cover

Title: The Vital Importance of the Superficial
Author: Ellen Kushner & Caroline Stevermer
In: Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: GaslampScience fiction
Dates read: 24th October 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tor
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: I play the pianoforte, but only very indifferently.

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Synopsis

A series of letters tell the story of an experiment gone awry, and the power of magic that ties everyone together. Will there be a happy ending to the letters that they share with one another?

Thoughts

This was such an interesting way to write a story – it was all written in letters between the characters. Rather than a proper prose, each moment of the future, past and present was outlined in people’s words and communications to one another. It made a completely unique and enjoyable experience. One that I really wasn’t expecting. And definitely a newer format to me… it’s always fun to find a unique way in which a story is told!

The Vital Importance of the Superficial is kind of nuts, but it was still a great tale. One that I look forward to reading again in the future. Every letter, every moment reveals more about the characters and the past. More about the story that is unfolding in a way that I was quite enthralled to experience. After all, it was a very different way to tell a story that was unique and not quite what was to be expected. All based in a great Victorian era.

The writing and style of this story was very reminiscent of Jane Austen and other similar writers. Not just in the way it was written, but the proper language shared between the characters. That, and the fact that everyone seemed to find love and completion in the end. A partner that was in front of their eyes the whole time…

 <- We Without Us Were Shadows ReviewThe Jewel in the Toad Queen’s Crown Review ->
Image source: Amazon

The Duke of Riverside by Ellen Kushner

Overview
naked-city

Title: The Duke of Riverside
Author: Ellen Kushner
In: Naked City (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Comedy, LGBTQI, Medieval fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 12th July 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: Why would you want to go there with me?

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Synopsis

There’s a young man whose decided to come down to Riverside and find his death. What he doesn’t realise is that no one is going to end the life of an unarmed man. But what he finds instead is much, much better.

Thoughts

The wit and dry humour in this story had me chuckling a fair bit. There was something about a strange, lanky scholar who was desperate to be killed roaming the streets and just having absolutely no luck. It got even better when you found out that he was a duke and abhorrent to the rest of his family. The beauty, humour and irony in the story had me cackling more than I should probably admit if I still wanted people to consider me sane (which I don’t, so it’s fine).

Growing up, I never seemed to read many stories which featured LGBTQI characters. But as my reading tastes have grown, I’ve noticed that it’s a theme that shows up more and more frequently. Or it may just be that it’s a theme that is written about more frequently as our society changes. Regardless, it’s something that I always love in my stories. And the unexpected coupling of two men in this story took me completely by surprise. Partly because in the beginning I thought it would be a tale about Alec just being killed in some random, heinous way. And partly because it’s a medieval fantasy-esque story, and I tend to find that that’s not a relationship that is outwardly hinted at.

The final scene of this short story is one of those that is incredibly difficult to get out of your head. The entire time I’ve been writing this review, I have that great, final image struck into my brain. But, you really must read this story yourself to have that fine enjoyment.

 <- On the Slide ReviewOblivion by Calvin Klein Review ->
Image source: Patricia Briggs

Honored Guest by Ellen Kushner

Overview
Image result for coyote road book cover

Title: Honored Guest
Author: Ellen Kushner
In: The Coyote Road (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Tricksters
Dates read: 3rd July 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
Year: 2007
5th sentence, 74th page: When I kneel before my instrument, and my fingers bend and dance on the strings, I feel as if I know things no one has ever known before.

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Synopsis

Bright Phoenix is trapped by her greedy, malicious grandmother. But a chance visit from a tricky womann might help her escape to a new world, one where her creativity can truly shine.

Thoughts

This didn’t end the way I was hoping for / expecting. Which is probably not a bad thing. After all, I love a good story that surprises. Especially one that was as fun and descriptive as this one. We’ve all met that someone that we completely hate, that just strikes us as not good. The grandmother in this went that extra step further and seemed just downright evil, but Bright Phoenix’s responses and thoughts on the old hag were still completely recognisable.

This wasn’t a trickster story in the sense that many of the other tales I’ve read lately have been. Jessica, or the honoured guest, might have a trickster nature about her, but there isn’t the sense of balance and comeuppance that characterises most of the trickster tales I’ve been reading. Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I kind of would have liked to see a little more karma, and a little less manipulation in this story.

 <- Cat of the World ReviewAlways the Same Story Review ->
Image source: Amazon

Troll’s-Eye View edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Overview
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Title: Troll’s-Eye View
Author: Ellen Datlow, Terri Windling, Delia Sherman, Garth Nix, Wendy Froud, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Peter S. Beagle, Ellen Kushner, Joseph Stanton, Holly Black, Jane Yolen, Nancy Farmer, Michael Cadnum, Catherynne M. Valente, Midori Snyder, Neil Gaiman & Kelly Link
In: Troll’s-Eye View (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Retellings, Short story collections, Villains
Dates read: 12th December 2018 – 1st March 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: I could have wept.

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Synopsis

Everyone thinks they know the real story behind the villains in fairy tales – evil, no two ways about it. But the villains themselves beg to differ. In this book you’ll hear from:
the Giant’s wife from “Jack and the Beanstalk”
the oldest of the Twelve Dancing Princesses
Rumpelstiltskin
the witch from “Hansel and Gretel”
someone called Evil Cinderella

Just watch these old stories do new tricks!

Thoughts

This is an incredibly easy, fun and engaging short story collection. It takes some brilliant authors who take you on journeys through well known fairy tales. The fact that these retellings all focus on the villains of the stories just made me love it even more. I always love the highlighting of grey areas and alternate tellings.

Troll’s-Eye View is a collection that is written for a very young age group. It’s simple and quaint. Easily accessible and fun. But, that doesn’t mean that as an adult you can’t enjoy it. There was nothing I enjoyed more than sitting down at the end of a long day and reading one of these short stories or poems. It was a great, fun and quick escape from the real world at a time when I’ve been really quite overwhelmed and stressed.

Most of my anthologies and collections contain only novellas and short stories. Troll’s-Eye View also has poems. They were enough to break up the flow throughout the story and leave you with a smile on your face.

 <- Why Light? ReviewWizard’s Apprentice Review ->
Image source: Amazon

The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces by Ellen Kushner

Overview
Image result for troll's-eye view book cover

Title: The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces
Author: Ellen Kushner
In: Troll’s-Eye View (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Family
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: I couldn’t be responsible for all those men, as well as my horrible sisters.

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Synopsis

Sometimes being the eldest really sucks. Especially when you have eleven younger sisters who are determined to dance the night away. That is, until the “responsible” one finds a way out of their situation.

Thoughts

I’m an older sister. And it doesn’t matter how old my younger sister and I are. It doesn’t matter where life takes us. I will always be her big sister. And I will always feel responsible for her. And protective of her. So it’s really nice to read a short story that reminds me that I’m not the only one in this position. That is uses the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses just makes it all the more fun and engaging.

Although this short story is in a collection about villains, I didn’t really feel that there was a villain in this story. after all, the oldest sister is just trying to watch out for the younger ones. Alright, they’re kind of bratty… but no one was truly evil. Or really cast as a villain in the story. But, mostly, I love the fact that although you can understand why the sister does what she does… everyone ultimately gets a nice ending and happiness.

 <- Up the Down Beanstalk ReviewPuss in Boots, the Sequel Review ->
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