Tag Archives: Maureen McHugh

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.

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…

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Image source: Amazon

The Memory Book by Maureen McHugh

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

Title: The Memory Book
Author: Maureen McHugh
In: Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: GaslampHorror
Dates read: 7th July 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tor
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: But a man’s vanity could always be counted on, and even as the Finches frowned, he laughed.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

Laura Anne keeps a little scrapbook in a secret place. Whilst all the other books are just full of nice memories, this one is full of something much darker, and she’s about to use it to get her own way.

Thoughts

This short story seriously sent goose bumps up by back. It was kind of horrible and truly uncomfortable. Not at the very beginning, in the beginning I was more than ready to feel sympathy for and love Laura Anne. But that quickly changed. And now I’m glad that she doesn’t really exist. She was a creepy, evil girl child.

Recently I started getting a little bit more into my crafting… and one of those craft things that I’m thoroughly enjoying is scrapbooking. After reading about how Laura Anne uses her “memory book” / scrapbook to alter the course of peoples’ lives… I’m feeling a little uncomfortable about getting back into that. Although, the current project is all about happiness and love. So maybe I should just concentrate on that…

The open-endedness of this short story’s ending added an extra layer of horror and just nope to this story. You can imagine the havoc that Laura Anne is going to continue wreaking on the people in her life and imagine no way in which it could be stopped.

 <- From the Catalogue of the Pavilion of the Uncanny and Marvellous, Scheduled for Premiere at the Great Exhibition (Before the Fire) ReviewLa Reine d’Enfer Review ->
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