Tag Archives: Kaaron Warren

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

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

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 Unwanted Women of Surrey by Kaaron Warren

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

Title: The Unwanted Women of Surrey
Author: Kaaron Warren
In: Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5:  4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Death, Feminism, GaslampHistorical fiction
Dates read: 19th September 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tor
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: We went walking early in the evening.

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Synopsis

In a house of unwanted women, the Grey Ladies have decided to make their presence known. But these unwanted wives don’t really know what the cost is going to be… will it be too late when they find out the truth?

Thoughts

This is kind of a strong story. It intertwines death, feminism and the choices we make in life. And it truly asks the question: what is right and what is wrong? Where are the shades of grey? Or in the case of this story, where are the shades of the Grey Ladies? After all, they haunt through this story in an eerily familiar way with each flick of a page.

The mix of a tale about women attempting to find their power and place in the world. the five women in this story are all unwanted by their husbands for one reason or another. In some circumstances, I think that this unwantedness is completely understandable (there was a potential murderer among them). But in others it is just kind of tragic. At the beginning of the story, all of these women are kind of just gliding through life with no real aims or decisions as to where they want to go in the world. By the end, that has changed and there is a sense of purpose and desire in all of their actions.

The use of the cholera outbreak and a mass murder gave this tale an entirely haunting feeling. And one that made you feel a little less comfortable with the decisions that are being made by the unwanted women of surrey. Yet, it also provides a great placement in history as this was a moment that actually happened. And houses provided for married, yet unwanted women was also quite a common occurrence within this time period. The fantastic blend of historical fact, and the fantastical nature of the Grey Ladies completely swept me away.

 <- Smithfield ReviewCharged Review ->
Image source: Amazon

Mad Hatters and March Hares edited by Ellen Datlow

Overview
Image result for mad hatters and march hares ellen datlow book cover

Title: Mad Hatters and March Hares
Author: Ellen Datlow, Kris Dikeman, Delia Sherman, C. S. E. Cooney, Jane Yolen, Priya Sharma, Richard Bowes, Stephen Graham Jones, Jeffrey Ford, Angela Slatter, Matthew Kressel, Seanan McGuire, Andy Duncan, Kaaron Warren, Ysabeau S. Wilce, Genevieve Valentine, Catherynne M. Valente & Katherine Vaz
In: Mad Hatters and March Hares (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Retellings, Short story collections, Wordplay
Dates read: 22nd December 2018 – 29th March 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tor
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: Beyond it were the cells.

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Synopsis

From Master Anthologist Ellen Datlow comes an all-original book of weird tales inspired by the strangeness of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There.

Between the hallucinogenic, weird, imaginative wordplay and the brilliant mathematical puzzles and social satire, Alice has been read, enjoyed, and savored by every generation since its publication. Datlow asked seventeen of the most brilliant and acclaimed writers working today to dream up stories inspired by all the strange events and surreal characters found in Wonderland.

Thoughts

I began my obsession with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in childhood, but kind of forgot about it until the last year – when I finally got around to reading the original story! And then my obsession began to take a bit of a turn for the… well, obsessive… so I bought this collection as soon as I found it. And opened the page within days of receiving it.

This collection takes all of the many aspects of Alice in Wonderland and turns them around and around until your dizzy. From cute poems, to horrific ideals about Alis and retellings of particular aspects of the original. This collection of short stories and poems has it all. And it is just impossible to put down!

My only piece of advice with this amazing collection is to maybe not read these tales when you’ve been drinking. I tried a few times and it just makes you feel incredibly tripped out. And confused. And just not really sure where reality is situated… kind of like the original.

 <- Children of the Fang ReviewGentle Alice Review ->
Image source: Bookdepository

Eating the Alice Cake by Kaaron Warren

Overview
Image result for mad hatters and march hares ellen datlow book cover

Title: Eating the Alice Cake
Author: Kaaron Warren
In: Mad Hatters and March Hares (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Fantasy
Dates read: 7th March 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tor
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: For my uncle’s wine.

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Synopsis

The Mock Turtle keeps reminding Alice of her horrible past. But, what if it’s something that she doesn’t want to think about?

Thoughts

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is twisted. No matter which way you look at it, there is a lot of twisty-ness to the original story. This Alice in Wonderland story is twisted too. Just in a more… disturbing way.

The Mock Turtle always seemed like something that was a little dour and depressing. Something that highlights everything that you don’t like about yourself. So a short story that focuses on this aspect of the original made me really quite happy. The fact that the depressing moments in Alice’s life aren’t so nice… well, that made me less happy.

I thought that the end of this story was kind of incredibly… cruel. Which worked well with the theme. After all, it’s a twisted version of Alice’s Wonderland and the Mock Turtle. And it ends kind of twisted too.

 <- Worrity, Worrity ReviewThe Queen of Hats Review ->
Image source: Bookdepository