Tag Archives: Esther M. Friesner

The Mammoth Book of Dark Magic edited by Mike Ashley

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of dark magic book cover

Title: The Mammoth Book of Dark Magic
Author: Mike Ashley, Steve Rasnic Tem, Richard A. Lupoff, Doug Hornig, Tom Holt, Tim Pratt, Diana Wynne Jones, John Morressy, Clark Ashton Smith, Michael Kurland, Michael Moorcock, Robert Weinberg, Darrell Schweitzer, Ralph Adams Cram, Ursula K. Le Guin, A.C. Benson, Lawrence Schimel, Mike Resnick, Esther M. Friesner, Tim Lebbon, David Sandner, Marion Zimmer Bradley, James Bibby, Louise Cooper & Peter Crowther
Series: Mammoth Books
In: The Mammoth Book of Dark Magic (Mike Ashley)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Magic, Short story collections
Dates read: 8th January – 7th May 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2004
5th sentence, 74th page: “I heard all you field hockey chicks are lesbians,” Curly said, still smiling.

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Synopsis

23 spellbinding tales of sorcery, wizardry and witchcraft.

From Gandalf to Harry Potter, sorcerers and wizards have always enthralled us. It is their power, above all, that we covet – the ultimate wish fulfilment of being able to do whatever we want – to fly, or make ourselves invisible, or to conjure something from nothing.

Here, from some of the most outstanding writers of fantasy, is a wonderfully varied collection of stories which explores the tensions and dilemmas in dealing with magic, from a child’s first struggle to control magical powers to epic clashes between the forces of good and evil.

Thoughts

It took me a little while to seriously get into this collection. But, once I did… I was completely hooked. I quite obviously love fantasy from the books that fill my shelves. But, as I’ve gotten older, I have found that I am drawn again and again to fantasy of a darker bent. Although not all of these short stories suited that desire, they just weren’t that dark… this collection was still seriously brilliant.

The stories in this collection just completely run the gamut. There are some serious, dark and twisted stories. Some that are fun and light. And a few that make you question the state of the world as we know it. All the stories were enjoyable in one way or another, although maybe not as memorable as some of the other short stories that I’ve read.

This is a great little collection. One that is interesting and fun. There was a lot surrounding ideas of chaos throughout, which makes it one of those collections that I’ll probably want to read again. There always seems to be this sense of confusion and intricacy about chaos stories that just makes me want to read them again and again.

<- The Mammoth Book of CthulhuTen Things I Know About the Wizard ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

In the Realm of Dragons by Esther M. Friesner

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of dark magic book cover

Title: In the Realm of Dragons
Author: Esther M. Friesner
In: The Mammoth Book of Dark Magic (Mike Ashley)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, DragonsLGBTQIMagic
Dates read: 9th March 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 1997
5th sentence, 74th page: Ryan sat at his father’s feet and looked up to see a taut jawline, a gaze fixed and fastened on Uncle Graham and Bill.

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Synopsis

Ryan is trying to honour the memory of his estranged Uncle. Clutching a dragon figurine, he travels into the city to find the men who tore his life apart.

Thoughts

I actually really, really enjoyed this short story. Not only was it about the ostracization which can occur to an individual because of their LGBTQI+ status, the hatred towards minorities and the need for one person to make amends, it is also about dragons. Which I love. So the combination took me straight to my little happy place.

For starters, I loved that there was a blurring of lines between reality and imagination. Even at the end of this story, you’re not entirely sure if the dragons was there in reality, or whether it was all just hopeful imagination and revenge. There was great, powerful imagery with the use of dragons and figurines. The flicking back and forth between memory and present. Reality and dreams. I loved this mystic quality and the way it created an amazingly powerful storyline.

I also loved that this story featured a homosexual man. It was the cause of all of his tragedies, but it was nice to have a story that realistically and deeply investigated how ostracization due to your sexual orientation can destroy a life. Can rip and tear it apart in a way that is unexpected, powerful and potent. And, obviously, very tragically.

<- DisillusionedForever ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding edited by P.N. Elrod

Overview
Image result for my big fat supernatural wedding book cover

Title: My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding
Author: P.N. Elrod, L.A. Banks, Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine, Esther M. Friesner, Lori Handeland, Charlaine Harris, Sherrilyn Kenyon & Susan Krinard
In: My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding (P.N. Elrod)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Romance, Short story collections
Dates read: 30th September – 30th November 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Year: 2006
5th sentence, 74th page: “You and your” – his eyes flicked toward Ian, who was clambering over the railing – “your intended can wait up on the quarterdeck.”

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Synopsis

Werewolves, vampires, witches, voodoo, Elvis—and weddings

An “ordinary” wedding can get crazy enough, so can you imagine what happens when otherworldly creatures are involved? Nine of the hottest authors of paranormal fiction answer that question in this delightful collection of supernatural wedding stories. What’s the seating plan when rival clans of werewolves and vampires meet under the same roof? How can a couple in the throes of love overcome traps set by feuding relatives—who are experts at voodoo? Will you have a good marriage if your high-seas wedding is held on a cursed ship? How do you deal with a wedding singer who’s just a little too good at impersonating Elvis? Shape-shifters, wizards, and magic, oh my!

Thoughts

I started reading this collection just before my best friend got married. I kind of figured that it was just a suitable kind of anthology to be reading when I too, was experiencing much of the wedding insanity that tends to surround such a fun day. And, it was nice to know that no matter what happened… nothing could go as badly wrong as many of the weddings in this collection.

There is something about weddings that seems to bring out the best and worst in people. So much pressure and stress for just one day which always blows my mind… but most people don’t have to deal with the supernatural. The characters in these stories do. And some of the battles they face are just… well, ridiculous. And difficult. And so much fun to read about.

Most of the authors in this collection I have on my shelves. Which made this a really good collection to read. Not only did I not then add a hundred different books to my wish list, but I often had the pleasure of revisiting worlds that I already have on my shelves. And the few I didn’t recognise? Well, they’ve quickly found their way on my to buy next list…

 <- “…Or Forever Hold Your Peace” ReviewSpellbound Review ->
Image source: Amazon

The Wedding of Wylda Serene by Esther M. Friesner

Overview
Image result for my big fat supernatural wedding book cover

Title: The Wedding of Wylda Serene
Author: Esther M. Friesner
In: My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding (P.N. Elrod)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Mythology, Paranormal romance
Dates read: 29th October 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Year: 2006
5th sentence, 74th page: “Bingo,” he said, pointing his index finger at me pistol-style and vocalizing a passable gunshot sound effect as he brought the thumb-hammer down.

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Synopsis

Wylda Serene has never been told no by her doting grandparents. So when she wants her wedding in a cursed club house, they just can’t put their foot down. What follows is a wedding full of insanity and magic. One that will go down in history.

Thoughts

This short story had me laughing out loud. All throughout. It kind of took all the worst things about weddings and turned them on their head. It made for a funny, engaging, ridiculous story that you couldn’t help but relate to. Especially when nothing turns out like you expected. And although everyone gets their happily ever after… it’s certainly not in the way that one would expect.

Between reading this short story and Crazy Rich Asians (at about the same time), I’ve come to the conclusion that the rich are just downright weird. That “polite” society and the weddings / events that they host are just not quite normal. After all, the entire time in this short story a very ill-conceived wedding is being organised and because of this, nothing is quite as it seems.

I have an incredibly unhealthy obsession with mythologies – and Greek mythology is one that is a lot more accessible than many others. But, I did enjoy the fact that some of the minor deities from this mythos take point in this story. It wasn’t about Zeus and his cohort, but some of their lesser-known offspring. It added an extra layer of enjoyment to this story that makes me want to read it again and again and again.

 <- “All Shook Up” ReviewCharmed by the Moon Review ->
Image source: Amazon

Snow White, Blood Red edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Overview
Image result for snow white, blood red book cover

Title: Snow White, Blood Red
Author: Ellen Datlow, Terri Windling, Susan Wade, Charles de Lint, Gahan Wilson, Nancy Kress, Tanith Lee, Wendy Wheeler, Kathe Koja, Gregory Frost, Elizabeth A. Lynn, Harvey Jacobs, Steve Rasnic Tem, Melanie Tem, Caroline Stevermer, Ryan Edmonds, Neil Gaiman, Leonard Rysdyk, Esther M. Friesner, Jack Dann, Jane Yolen, Patricia A. McKillip & Lisa Goldstein
Series: Adult Fairy Tales #1
In: Snow White, Blood Red (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
Dates read: 17th December 2018 – 12th April 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Signet
Year: 1993
5th sentence, 74th page: It’ll still mean that I’m willing to let someone die, just so I can have my own way.

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Synopsis

Snow White, Blood Red is a brand new collection of fairy tales. But be warned. It is not a collection for the faint-hearted. Or even one to lull the innocent towards the sleeping realms of dreams. For Snow White, Blood Red is a modern book of wonders: a boundless expanse of nightmares, lusts and fables for the grown-up child in us all.

Through richly imaginative retellings of existing fairy tales, twenty-one of the world’s top fantasy authors recreate the full mythical, magical, mind-bending power of humankind’s oldest fables. Prepare to be seduced by stories that bite – stories that are frightening, erotic, dark and compelling. Because as Terri Windling reminds us in the introduction: ‘Something still stirs inside us when we hear those old, evocative words: Once upon a time.’ Only this time, in this world, there is no happy ending…

Thoughts

I’ve had this book on my wish list for a very, very long time. So, when I finally managed to find a second hand copy and get it delivered to my door, I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into it. After all, I love fairy tales, I like stories with a dark twist, and I’m fascinated by retellings and the ways in which people are able to twist and turn classic themes to fit a more contemporary or recognisable setting. Which makes this kind of the perfect short story collection to sit on my shelves.

Some of the stories in this collection are kind of dark and twisted. Some are incredibly sexual. And some are just a great, contemporary retelling that makes childish fairy tales far more relatable. I got goosebumps reading some of these stories. While others left a smile on my face. You know it’s a fantastic collection when it takes you through the rollercoaster of emotions and leaves you feeling incredibly happy at the close of the last page.

Anybody who loves fantasy, horror or fairy tales, this is a great collection to add to your shelves. It is one that I won’t be getting out of my head anytime soon, that’s for sure…

<- Taking LoupLike a Red, Red Rose ->

Image source: Amazon

Puss by Esther M. Friesner

Overview
Image result for snow white, blood red book cover

Title: Puss
Author: Esther M. Friesner
In: Snow White, Blood Red (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Fairy tales
Dates read: 28th March 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Signet
Year: 1993
5th sentence, 74th page: Wizard? My sister asked, nose wrinkling with greed.

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Synopsis

A dark, adult twist on the classic fairytale of Puss in Boots. One that I find far more interesting and fun.

Thoughts

I kind of loved this version of Puss-in-Boots. After all, the original was so PG, and kind of didn’t explain just why the cat was so loyal and giving to his owners. There was just something a little too innocent about it, and I don’t love the idea of a character who is obviously powerful and intelligent from weighing hand and foot on such a horrible, selfish and downright irritating man. This short story put that all to rights.

I loved the idea of a contract and a blood oath to keep puss tied to his owners. The dark pacts that are made in a way that kind of surprised me, but definitely made me incredibly happy. It also added this great fantasy element to the fairy tale that I wasn’t expecting. One that I wish could be expanded on. After all, there is a whole race of beings that are able to help humans, make pacts with them and be changed. Something that intrigues me… and makes me yearn for more.

 <- A Sound, Like Angels Singing ReviewThe Glass Casket Review ->
Image source: Amazon