I'm trying to put my finger on a way to describe this, and the best I can do right now is say that it keeps making me think of a very odd blend of MegI'm trying to put my finger on a way to describe this, and the best I can do right now is say that it keeps making me think of a very odd blend of Megan Lindholm and Connie Willis. With a heavy dash of Shirley Jackson, pardon me as I stare at the pages and try to process what I just read.
The stories aren't bitter, exactly. I wouldn't call them cutting. They will not poison you nor make you bleed.
But they will quietly identify a pressure point, and then push down on it with a pencil-tip, and you will feel it for days afterwards....more
Honestly, the overwhelming desire to shake the protagonist until his teeth fell out and he stopped being such a selfish whittering whiner made this inHonestly, the overwhelming desire to shake the protagonist until his teeth fell out and he stopped being such a selfish whittering whiner made this incredibly hard to get into. Everyone else seems at least interesting (although I side-eye the Manic Pixie Dream Girl), but right now I just cannot plough through the POV character to get to them. May revisit next year or something: right now, it's going back to the library....more
It's not quite weird fiction; it has none of the unreality I associate with that term. It's horrific in spots, but it's much quieter than a lot of theIt's not quite weird fiction; it has none of the unreality I associate with that term. It's horrific in spots, but it's much quieter than a lot of the horror I read. It's too contemporary, in feel and narrative rather than in setting, to be a classic ghost story.
But damn, it's good.
I'm reminded of Stephen King's strange small towns--Wink is much more idealized than Derry or Castle Rock, which have their dark little knots; but then again, its idealization is part of the horror. And I'm reminded of Neil Gaiman. I'm not a huge Gaiman fan, usually; I tend to find his work more glossy than touching. But he does have some lovely things to say about the little horrors of family and expectation, and he writes those things large and strange, and that definitely happened here. (I'm not trying to say that the book's derivative! I'm trying to explain what appeals by drawing comparisons.)
Sometimes it seems like there are half a dozen threads of story (particularly towards the end, when the nature of Wink is being illustrated), but it's never fractured; someone called it sprawling, and I think that suits. It's well-written (it really is), calmly voiced, and while I wish that there was a little more of it (and we're talking about a 662-plus-backmatter pound-and-a-half trade, here) I am very happy that I read it....more
A chilling, weird, and often sad collection. I'm actually a little hesitant to apply the word "horror", rather than simply going with "weird", but upoA chilling, weird, and often sad collection. I'm actually a little hesitant to apply the word "horror", rather than simply going with "weird", but upon reflection will say it definitely qualifies.
Short stories, with plain writing; the settings range from the clearly fantastical (if never saccharine) to the strictly Western contemporary, with the weird elements ranging as well from explicit to possibly imagined. Touching and strange, with characters beautifully realized.
(Also, I will note: I bought it on Kindle. I have only ever done that three times, and this is the only one I've done it where I didn't have even a passing acquaintance with the author. And I'd do it again with his other books, although I'd prefer other options.)...more
A much wider range of stories than I was expecting. You've got some classic fungus/body horror and some sad tales of personal darkness, but there's alA much wider range of stories than I was expecting. You've got some classic fungus/body horror and some sad tales of personal darkness, but there's also Victorian bio-engineering, weird Westerns, dark comedy, science fiction that puts the mushrooms in a very different role from what I was expecting, high fantasy (the old stuff), cross-sections of neighbourhood life that take a dark turn, mind-altering alien invasion, poetry...
I'm sitting here looking over the table of contents, and I really don't think I can do justice to the scope of the stories, here; the variety of style and topic is honestly surprising, even as the quality is consistently high. A couple of them didn't blow me away, but all that means is that when presented with twenty-seven stories, the worst thing I can possibly say about one or two of them is "well-written, not to my personal taste".
(I've made sure the official URL to the book is included in the Goodreads information for all three editions, so you could be reading the ebook in less time than it takes you to finish this review. Just saying.)
Some particular favourites of mine, that make me want to see what else the authors have done:
Last Bloom on the Sage, by Andrew Penn Romine. A dynamic weird Western; I look at what it does for the Wild West and I'm reminded of what Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette did for spaceships and space stations with "Boojum" and "Mongoose".
Goatsbride, by Richard Gavin. A rich, dark tale of horror where the fungus meshes with human evil and an ancient monster. Makes me think of the best of what I used to love about the old Pan Book of Horror Stories collections.
Tubby McMungus, Fat From Fungus, by Molly Tanzer and Jesse Bullington. Anthropomorphic cats. And high-fashion merkins. And poor abused rats. And jockeying for favour at court. And fungus!
Where Dead Men Go To Dream by A.C. Wise. A weird story set in an unnamed city, where the mold and mushrooms are not the only strangeness you can find growing from people's flesh. Beautifully written, sad, and dark.
Letters to a Fungus, by Polenth Blake. A deceptively fast read, darkly funny. Very quotable, although I'm avoiding doing so because of possible spoilers.
The Flaming Exodus of the Greifswald Grimoire, by J.T. Glover. A pair of cheerfully dastardly thieving protagonists on the trail of a lost book. Prompted a very odd late-night conversation. (hardcover only)
I really have to say I've trimmed this list down hard--I stopped and went back over it when I realized I was in danger of mentioning half the stories in the anthology. Honestly, there isn't a bad one in the bunch; I think this is the best anthology (for style, quality, and variety) I've seen in ages, and really recommend picking it up....more
Strange and heart-twisting stories; particularly fond of "The Strange Case of Nicholas Thomas: An Excerpt from A History of the Longesian Library". ItStrange and heart-twisting stories; particularly fond of "The Strange Case of Nicholas Thomas: An Excerpt from A History of the Longesian Library". It's late and I'm feeling inarticulate and not a little sad (possibly just finishing this has something to do with that), but really need to say these are lovely....more
Well, it's a crime novel. It's in a slightly alternate reality that predates the current day. It's a very fast and good read, with a beautifully set-oWell, it's a crime novel. It's in a slightly alternate reality that predates the current day. It's a very fast and good read, with a beautifully set-out world. I would not call it steampunk. I definitely would call it noir.
(It made me sad I did not have a way to copy and paste stretches of text that were a page long and send them to some people I know who would really really like them.)
I am trying to think up a better review, and I will keep trying, but in the meantime I highly recommend you read it.