Tag Archives: Under My Hat

Stray Magic by Diana Peterfreund

Overview

Under My HatTitle: Stray Magic
Author: Diana Peterfreund
In: Under My Hat (Jonathan Strahan)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy readingFantasy, Witches
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: If you wanted.

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

Synopsis

Mary Louise aka Malou works at a no-kill animal shelter. Her friend, Jeremy, works at the county shelter, which typically euthanizes pets within three days of their arrival. Occasionally Jeremy will send animals he thinks are good candidates for adoption to Malou when they have room in the shelter for them. He tells her he’s sending over a beautiful Golden Retriever, but when the dog arrives, all Malou sees is a ragged, injured, and ancient-looking dog that is nothing like her friend described. From certain angles though, she can see bits of the Golden Retriever the dog is supposed to be. Then the dog begins to communicate with Malou psychically. The dog, whose name is Goneril, says she lost her master somewhere on the highway, and must find him quickly. He is a witch who has been keeping her alive using magic, and if he doesn’t renew her spells within three days, she will die. Convinced that her owner has abandoned the dog, Malou sets out to find another witch who can help Goneril before her time is up.

Thoughts

I have pages on Facebook that are dedicated to the lost and unwanted puppies of the world. There are videos upon videos of rescue sites that help to rehome them, and I constantly wonder how these poor creatures feel when their owners have so thoughtlessly abandoned them (which often happens). I have my own two fur babies, and the idea of giving them up makes me weep – they are family! So, it was kind of fun reading a story about this exact event – what happens when a loving dog is abandoned.

Although Goneril’s unwavering faith in her magical master brings me to the point of tears within the first few pages. (He did, after all, abandon her on the side of the road to die). This story does have a beautiful happy ending, and honestly, it was the best way to start this collection of short stories. A stray with unwavering faith; a young, blossoming witch; and an incredibly sweet happy ending. This is definitely a feel good story that I will read again and again. Especially when all of those social media pages start to get me down.

 <- Under My Hat Review Payment Due Review ->
Image source: Frances Hardinge

The Stone Witch by Isobelle Carmody

Overview

Under My HatTitle: The Stone Witch
Author: Isobelle Carmody
In: Under My Hat (Jonathan Strahan)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Easy reading, Fantasy, Witches
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: We were, however, tilted heavily to one side.

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

Synopsis

A woman who doesn’t like kids sits on an aircraft, preparing to go on a journey. The flight attendant brings a child traveling alone to take the seat beside her. The woman is none too happy about this turn of events and studiously tries to ignore the little girl. For the most part it seems to be working until the plane hits some major turbulence. Just as it seems the plane is about to crash, the woman is transported into a world that she has dreamed about many times before. The little girl along with another older woman named Rose and her dog are there as well. Rose sends the woman and girl on a fantastical journey to find a stolen amethyst egg. Whether or not they succeed in their mission will ultimately determine their fate and may also teach them a few things about themselves in the process.

Thoughts

Planes, children and death, three things that kind of freak me out, all combined into one very enjoyable short story. But honestly, I didn’t expect anything less from one of my favourite authors!

There always seems to be an underlying story of fate and quests in Carmody’s work, and this story is no different. After Hester’s worst fears seem to be realised, she is sent on a quest with a small child to a potentially glorious future. Ultimately, she is forced to face a decision that makes her face up to her own future, or that of another human being’s.

The vividness of Carmody’s writing stays with me long after I have finished the final page of her stories. The Stone Witch is no different, and I can’t get those final moments of the story out of my mind.

 <- Burning Castles Review Andersen’s Witch Review ->
Image source: Frances Hardinge

Crow and Caper, Caper and Crow by Margo Lanagan

Overview

Under My HatTitle: Crow and Caper, Caper and Crow
Author: Margo Lanagan
In: Under My Hat (Jonathan Strahan)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Australian authorsEasy reading, Fantasy, Witches
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: It was subtly colorful and delicately patterned; everything that was so ugly when you were down among it seemed from this distance nicely worked, and human effort seemed rather dear and hopeless, even though it had cleared and scarred and excavated such great tracts of land, ruined them every which way.

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

Synopsis

When Pen’s only son married, he and his new bride moved far away. This saddened her, because her son had fallen in love with a young woman she thought was normal and who was afraid of Pen’s magical powers. As the birth of her first grandchild approaches, Pen uses her magic to travel a long distance over sea and land to visit them and offer a blessing for the babe, but when she arrives, she discovers things about both her daughter-in-law and her new granddaughter that surprise her.

Thoughts

Every story about witchcraft that I read, whether it’s entirely fantasy-based or based in Wicca, birth and death are integral to the practice and beliefs. Which is why it is fun to read a short story that is all about birth and the turning of the circle.

Pen embarks on an epic journey across the ocean to visit her daughter-in-law and new granddaughter. She plans to do everything in secret and leave again. To greet the new life and welcome it into her world. But, as with all good stories, nothing goes as planned. Which is where the story becomes far more enjoyable.

The point at which nothing goes as planned is also the reminder of family. How important it is, and how acceptance, even after the fact can heal many wounds.

 <- Great-Grandmother in the Cellar Review Under My Hat Review ->
Image source: Frances Hardinge

The Carved Forest by Tim Pratt

Overview

Under My HatTitle: The Carved Forest
Author: Tim Pratt
In: Under My Hat (Jonathan Strahan)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, FantasyWitches
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: Chop away.

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

Synopsis

Carlos’ sister, Maria, has run away from home. He thinks she may have gone to the house of the woman who is rumored around town to be a witch. Carlos never believed the stories though. He always thought she was just a crazy old woman until he goes looking for Maria and finds a forest of carved trees behind the woman’s house that look exactly like all the people in his town. He quickly learns that the witch, Nedra, has been using the statues to control everyone and she wants Maria to be her apprentice. Nedra insists that she’s only keeping everyone safe from harm, but Carlos sees the truth: she’s taken away their free will. When Nedra makes everyone but Carlos forget about Maria, it’s up to Carlos to find a way to free Maria before it’s too late.

Thoughts

The Carved Forest was an interesting witch story – it provided a great reminder that you need to let go of your grief. Holding on to the past, your grief and lost loved ones only leads to pain and suffering. Not just for the one holding on to it, but everyone around them.

In this witchy-tale, the witch’s longing to protect the people in her care leads to some very serious consequences. Trapping Carlos’ sister in her witchy-world is just the tip of the ice berg. It was a more than symbolic way to show that if we keep those we love 100% safe, we’re probably not letting them truly live their lives. And it isn’t until Carlos is able to show how far he will go to protect a sibling that the witch, Carlos and the reader are able to realise the flaws in the system of protection.

 <- Which Witch Review Burning Castles Review ->
Image source: Frances Hardinge

Burning Castles by M. Rickert

Overview

Under My HatTitle: Burning Castles
Author: M. Rickert
In: Under My Hat (Jonathan Strahan)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Fantasy, Witches
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: It’s important not to be late.

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

Synopsis

Young Marissa believes her mother is a witch, but she also thinks her mother is lying to her about certain things. What Marissa believes to be memories of the past keep intruding on the present. As they go to meet the elderly mother of her mother’s boyfriend, some things come to light that may change everything.

Thoughts

This was kind of a dark short story. Especially compared to the majority of the others throughout the Under My Hat anthology. Most of the stories were humorous, cute and left me smiling. This story didn’t so much leave a smile as a look of bewilderment on my face when I turned the last page.

One of the things that I did love about this story was the fact that sometimes the most fake individuals actually end of creating the real thing. In this case, the witch who constantly talks about her past lives has a daughter who is plagued by dreams of her past life. Which just leads to a multitude of problems in their relationship, and the fore mentioned bewildered feeling.

Past lives and reincarnation is a cornerstone of many beliefs, including Wicca (modern day witchcraft). So I loved the way in which it was played with throughout this story. The smell of fire and smoke is representative of murder, and the smell of the mother has a lingering double meaning when you close the last pages on this slightly twisted (but very enjoyable) story.

 <- The Carved Forest Review The Stone Witch Review ->
Image source: Frances Hardinge

Andersen’s Witch by Jane Yolen

Overview

Under My HatTitle: Andersen’s Witch
Author: Jane Yolen
In: Under my Hat (Jonathan Strahan)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Fantasy, Witches
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: It gives the boy ideas above his station.

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

Synopsis

Yolen explores the tale of the Snow Queen and Hans Christian Andersen in this brilliant spin on witches, fairytales and love.

Thoughts

I love Hans Christian Andersen – at least, I love the stories that I can remember. And this is a great take on his life and death, with a bit of a twist to The Ice Queen.

I love stories that take facts, people, history and turn it on its head. Especially when the story actually feels remarkably plausible. Andersen’s Witch gave a plausible and enjoyable look into Andersen’s early life and rise to fame.

Yet, this story is truly about a child’s love and the innocence and purity that they bring to a person’s life. Ultimately, it is this that helps Andersen to beat the Ice Queen and inspires the well-known story that we all know and love.

 <- The Stone Witch Review B is for Bigfoot Review ->
Image source: Frances Hardinge

Great-Grandmother in the Cellar by Peter S. Beagle

Overview

Under My HatTitle: Great-Grandmother in the Cellar
Author: Peter S. Beagle
Series: The Innkeeper’s World #1.5
In: Under My Hat (Jonathan Strahan)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Fantasy, Witches
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: And that was all we ever got out of him about Great-Grandmother.

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

Synopsis

Da’mas watched as the evil sorcerer with whom his sister fell in love placed the girl in a sleep that mimicked death. He tells Da’mas that she will not awaken unless she sees his face, something that will not happen unless Da’mas and his father agree to allow the wicked mage to marry her. Da’mas’s father is out of town, and he’s not sure how he can help his sister. He decides to go down to the cellar to awaken the great-grandmother he knows still lives there. As it turns out she is nothing but bones and must take over another’s body in order to help. Da’mas volunteers his body, and together, they set out to stop the sorcerer and save his sister from his clutches.

Thoughts

The title of this short story made me want to read it as soon as I saw the table of contents in the beginning of Under My Hat. After all, any story that has a great-grandmother buried in a cellar is bound to be good. Or at least, that’s the way my brain tends to work…

All families have skeletons in the closet – after all, there is no family that doesn’t have its black sheep. But in the case of this family… not so much a black sheep and not so much a closet, but more so a skeleton in the cellar. Plus, it’s a much more terrifying skeleton than any that my family have. Yet, this kind of works out all for the best. After all, it is this terrifying grandmother that ends up saving the day and protecting her family.

Although you know that somehow the boy will save his sister, the journey is still amazing. The way in which it is done is kind of unexpected, and it helped to make the adventure so much more interesting. Now I can’t wait to see how this short story works into The Innkeeper’s World.

 <- B is for Bigfoot Review Crow and Caper, Caper and Crow Review ->
Image source: Frances Hardinge

Under My Hat edited by Jonathan Strahan

Overview
Under My Hat

Title: Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron
Author: Jonathan Strahan, Diana Peterfreund, Frances Hardinge, Garth Nix, Holly Black, Charles de Lint, Tanith Lee, Neil Gaiman, Ellen Klages, Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, Patricia A. McKillip, Tim Pratt, M. Rickert, Isobelle Carmody, Jane Yolen, Peter S. Beagle, Margo Lanagan
In: Under My Hat (Jonathan Strahan)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Easy readingShort story collections, Witches
Pace: Medium
Format: Collection
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: “Was he?” asked Mari.

Synopsis

Broomsticks.
Black Cats.
Pointy Hats.

They can mean only one thing – somewhere nearby, there must be a witch. From fairy tales to fims to fiction, witches cast their spells and capture our imaginations.

Now the biggest names in fantasy and young adult literature have come together to make a little magic of their own. Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Diana Peterfreund, Margo Lanagan, Peter S. Beagle, and Garth Nix are just a few of the authors who have toiled over their cauldrons and conjured up bewitching new creations inspired by and celebrating the might and mystery of the witch. Assembled by one of the most well-regarded anthologists in the science fiction/fantasy world, this rich, intelligent collection will enchant readers of all ages.

Thoughts

Short story collections are always good fun. They’re a great way to discover new authors, and the common thread through them can be so unique and different. Sometimes I even struggle to find the common thread! Not with this amazing collection though. It’s simple. Witches.

Strahan did a great job of putting together this fun and cute little collection of witch-y tales and I’m actually kind of disappointed that it’s over. Although I bought it to read B is for Bigfoot by Jim Butcher, the rest of the stories really jumped out at me. It’s actually difficult to pick an absolute favourite – they all had this twisted, fun, unexpected adventure that they took me on. Closing the cover of the book, I feel like I’ve gone on journeys through distant lands (and realms) and come back to land squarely on earth. Which is actually kind of disappointing… time to find my next epic journey of witchcraft and wings…

<- Crow and Caper, Caper and CrowStray Magic ->

Image source: Frances Hardinge

Witch Work by Neil Gaiman

Overview
Under My Hat

Title: Witch Work
Author: Neil Gaiman
In: Under My Hat (Jonathan Strahan) & Trigger Warning (Neil Gaiman)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves:  Easy reading, Fantasy, Witches
Pace: Slow
Format: Poem
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: She sold calm seas to the mariners’ wives; Tied winds with silk cords so the storms could be tied there.

Synopsis

This short poem is about an elderly witch who lives in a room filled with clocks. She would sell storms, sorrows, and calmed the sea. The narrator explains that he bought three sorrows. The first he gave to his enemy’s child, the second was made into a broth by his wife, and the third remains unused. Regardless of this, the witch’s life is in a box which makes her quite sorrowful. We are not told what makes the witch sad, but she always returns to her house full of clocks.

Thoughts

This was an unexpectedly layered poem in the middle of the Under My Hat anthology. And one that I enjoyed immensely. I actually read this three times, each time with a new meaning and nuance. And, like all good poetry, I think that the more chances I get to read this, the more hidden meanings I will find about what a witch’s work entails.

<- FelidisThe Education of a Witch ->

Image source: Frances Hardinge

The Witch in the Wood by Delia Sherman

Overview
Under My Hat

Title: The Witch in the Wood
Author: Delia Sherman
In: Under My Hat (Jack Dann & Jonathan Strahan)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Fantasy, Witches
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: I crashed through the undergrowth that separated us and dug my knife into the moss, cutting out a handful to pack into the hole my arrow had made.

Synopsis

Mildryth is a young witch who, until three years ago, lived in the woods with her mother. Ever since her mother’s death, she’s been alone, never coming into contact with another human being. She possesses great magical powers which her mother taught her how to use but only when necessary. While out hunting one day, she wounds a deer with her arrow, but before she can kill it, the deer turns into a man. She eventually discovers he is named Erdwyn, and that he is running from his destiny in the north country, a place Mildryth’s mother had warned her away from. As she nurses Erdwyn back to health, the pair fall in love, but when his wounds fester, she must risk everything to travel to the north country to find the only cure. While there, Mildryth learns amazing things about herself, but upon her return, she is pursued by the powerful wizard who rules that land and who will not allow her to live happily and peacefully with her true love.

Thoughts

I really like The Witch in the Wood. It was quite a cute and unorthodox little love story. I mean it starts with the first person voice recounting the day that she met the love of her life. Which is about the only predictable aspect of this short story.

Firstly, the history of the witch is completely vague and difficult to understand. She’s completely on her own and sure of her own powers. But it isn’t until the stag enters her life that she really has to test her knowledge and experience. After all, he might bring love into her life, but he also brings danger and threats.

Ultimately, the witch in the woods is a reminder that it is important to care for others and your family. That sticking up for yourself is a power all in its own right.

<- The Threefold WorldWhich Witch ->

Image source: Frances Hardinge