Whew, this is going to be a long review as each entry gets its own blurb. *deep breath* Well, here goes...
Ellen Kushner & Terri Windling – WelcomeWhew, this is going to be a long review as each entry gets its own blurb. *deep breath* Well, here goes...
Ellen Kushner & Terri Windling – Welcome to Bordertown
This was a sweet story about a girl who left for Bordertown and thirteen days later for her – but 13 years later for the human world – her younger brother gets a postcard she sent home and starts on a journey to find her. It is a story not only of his journey to find his older sister but to also find his place in the world. I quite liked this story. It gave a good representation of what Bordertown is – the crazy music, the art scene, the buildings, the good, the bad, and everything else in between. This was a great story to start off this anthology with!
Cory Doctorow – Shannon’s Law
I admit, I cheated and read this story early. I can’t remember where now – off the Bordertown website? Or perhaps bOINGbOING. I’m not sure. But it was nice re-reading it and I loved the world the Cory created. This more so than any other story is the story of 13 years zooming past in mere days. This is the next journey for all Bordertown residents – how to incorporate this newfangled technology with good ol’ fae magic. And Cory captures it brilliantly! This is creative and fun and not-too-techy for all of us tech-dunces out there. I loved reading about Shannon, his crew, the amazing mix of coffee and work ethic, Wikipedia in book form, and the crazy wonderful Jetfuel. A fun romp into the magics of cyperspace.
Patricia A. McKillip – Cruel Sister
A pretty poem (song?) from a fantastic fantasy author about the differences of two sisters. I definitely liked this but I really love the lush descriptive prose of her books and was hoping more for a short story rather than a poem. Still, it was eminently likeable so I have nothing to complain about.
Cathreynne M. Valente – A Voice Like A Hole
I just finished Deathless earlier this month which was my first foray into her particular world so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this story. But it was a quaint little story about a shy girl named Fig as she found herself and her own voice. It was a bit wordy and I almost felt that there was a bit too much information but it was an overall nice – if a bit forgettable – story.
Amal El-Motar – Stairs in Her Hair
A fun ditty that I could find myself singing along to. Not sure if there is much else to say about this, really. I’ve never heard of this author before but I’d be happy to pick something up by her now, so I guess there’s that.
Emma Bull – Incunabulum
We find ourselves following the life of a Trueblood as he enters Bordertown – the only problem is that he can’t remember a single thing about himself before the first word on the page. He is a blank slate – or rather a blank Page – that gets filled up as the story rambles along as he gathers bits and pieces of himself – or creates new pieces – along the way. I loved the characterization of this. I loved reading about Page and his witch and the various people that he meets along the way who helped him fill up his blankness with new words and experiences until he finds himself as a completely new person. Great story!
Steven Brust – Run Back Across the Border
A fun little song that could easily get stuck in your head telling you the reasons why you should run back across the border and out of Bordertown.
If you do not like my song Run back across the Border It just proves you don’t belong Run back across the Border.
See, it gets stuck in your head, doesn’t it??
Alaya Dawn Johnson – A Prince of Thirteen Days
An interesting take on a ‘Sleeping Beauty’ type story where a young girl of Bordertown buys a cheap charm from a store and finds out that she can communicate with the dark and gorgeous statue in the park. Her first question: “Will you have sex with me?” Thus begins the thirteen days until she finds her true love. But could it possibly be a statue? Could that statue be made into real flesh? In under thirteen days? Not one of my favorite stories but the stories here are all so high caliber that it is hard to say what the best story here is. I can say that I liked it. It was fun, if a bit long for this collection. And ultimately not one that remains fixated in my mind.
Will Shetterly – The Sages of Elsewhere
Awww, the return of the infamous Wolfboy. I really loved the first story I read of Wolfboy and Orient so I was excited to revisit his life and I was happy to see that he was happy. His story starts with a magic book called The Secrets of Seven Sages that Milo sold to him for his bookstore. However, it is a very valuable book and one that many people want! Good fun and a great return to an old friend’s life.
Jane Yolen – Soulja Grrrl: A Long Line Rap
A very modern short rap that seems to take its roots from Tam Lin.
Janni Lee Simner – Crossings
Two best friends make their way into Bordertown – one intent on finding a true love vampire and the other keen on a werewolf boyfriend. After asking around they find out that their search starts with Lankin who is apparently a vampire – or is he? A saddening story of friendship, though again one of the lesser interesting pieces in my opinion. It was a bit wordy and I felt my interest waning throughout.
Sara Ryan (writer) & Dylan Meconis (illustrator)
The only comic of this book and one that was bloody hard to read on my ebook reader. I quite liked the story of a girl going to Bordertown looking for her mom while her dad is in prison. The drawing was crisp and clean and I liked the variety of characters flitting across the pages. I would love to see more stories like this fleshed out in a comic anthology by DC’s Vertigo, home of the infamous Sandman comics by Neil Gaiman.
Jane Yolen – Night Song for a Halfie
So glad Jane Yolen popped up again. I wasn’t the hugest fan of Soulja Grrrl and I was really hoping for something more from her. This time it is a lullaby to sing to an elfin child with a warning at the end. Be careful and don’t piss off your mommy!
Tim Pratt – Our Stars, Our Selves
We follow a short span in the life of Allie Land, newly come to Bordertown. She gets lost, hit on by a ridiculously persistent elf boy (even though she tells him she doesn't swing that way), meets an astrologer/astronomer who brings her back home and shows her the stars, and finds out that she has her own star to wish on. But what would she wish for? And what does that have to do with that annoying elf? Read it and find out. It was an interesting take on the elf mythos and wishing on stars. Not my favorite but a good solid read.
Annette Curtis Klause - Elf Blood
I've never read a Klause story before though I do know she deals in vampires so it was fun to hear of her take of vampires in Bordertown. We follow a pale girl seen to be as a 'halfie' except that she's not. That paleness stems from some bad blood magic that she's been running away from and the taste of blood that she's acquired. This story drops us following her after she finds herself enthralled with a beautiful elf boy from a band called Lambton Wyrm at the Ferret. Much as she wants to meet beautiful Sky she ends up conversing with the brother instead, who is not nearly as sexy but someone who could be a friend. I quite liked this story. It had all the Bordertown elements that I've come to love with an interesting take on the vampire theme in a Elvin-bordered world.
Nalo Hopkinson - Ours is the Prettiest
Juju-weather is coming for true and the carnival atmosphere of Jou'vert, a daylong free-for-all Mardi Gras-style parade, is happening as we follow a brief glimpse into the life of Beti and Gladstone told by Gladstone's former lover and current friend. This was a really odd story for me. I didn't know what to make of it and I didn't really like it. This was not Bordertown for me. Not at all. It took place in an alternate Bordertown, mayhap? And by that I mean this story just didn't resonate with me at all. Pass.
Delia Sherman - The Wall
I love Delia Sherman so I was looking forward to a story from her. Alas, no story but small non-rhyming poem about how everyone view the Border and recorded down because 'Recording is what I do.' It was a great little Bordertown poem that flowed quickly.
Christopher Barzak - We Do Not Come in Peace
Another odd Bordertown story that didn't resonate with me - though at least this one truly felt like a Bordertown story unlike the Nalo Hopkinson one. Marius used to be a famous musician but little by little around the time the Way to Bordertown reopened he found himself losing that music. It fled. And Marius had to find a way to cope, a way to move on, and he did by opening a new store. He also picked up a noob named Alek and tried to teach him the ropes of Bordertown so that way at least Alek won't make the same mistakes that Marius did. But Alek is not Marius and his mistakes are of a different calibre as the reader finds out later on in the story.
Jane Yolen - A Bordertown Jump-rope Rhyme
Another fun little ditty by Jane Yolen. If I had a jumprope I'd certainly want to give this rhyme a shot.
Holly Black and Cassandra Clare - The Rowan Gentleman
Ashly is an actor for The Magic Lantern where she learns parts for such movies as Thelma and Louise and Pulp Fiction and Pirates of the Carribbean in case the electricity fails the theatre and the actors have to step in and take over. Her boyfriend is the lazy Alain who is a Trueblood but a rather fatuous one at that. One night a halfie girl stumbles into the theatre and dies mysteriously after whispering, "Robert said to wait for the Rowan Gentleman, but I was too scared. I--" and was suddenly cut off in the throes of death. I loved this story!! So much fun. It felt like a mishmash of The Scarlet Pimpernel meets V for Vendetta. A great story and definitely high on my list for this book.
Neil Gaiman - The Song of the Song
A pretty rhymed poetic story about how life is not always fair and the world moves on without you. I love Neil Gaiman so I was so excited to see him as part of this anthology and I loved his 'ditty' but I only wish I could get a short story, as well. Ah well, can't have everything...
Charles de Lint - A Tangle of Green Men
This was an absolutely fantastic way to end this anthology. I love Charles de Lint and his urban fantasy tales so I was very much looking forward to this and this story does not disappoint. It drops us into the life of Joey, a seventeen year-old reprobate who just got out of juvie and needs to make a new life of it before he ends up in jail. He gets sent to his uncle's and helps his uncle set up conventions when one convention and one particular girl garner his attention. She's working at a fae booth at a fairy convention where her father is one of many Green Men. Joey finds himself coming back to her booth the next day as they get closer. This story was just fantastic and I felt prickles of tears near the end of it - both for the bittersweet nature of this story and for the fact that this anthology has come to a close.
So there's my full review. It was a rollercoaster ride with ups, downs, unforseen spills and twists, and mischief around every bend. I loved it! I absolutely loved it! I have this as an ebook but I can tell you that I'm definitely going to hunt up a paperback copy as well when it comes out. Well worth it!
This must be the third - fourth? - time that I have re-read this book when I picked it up so many, many years ago when visiting my home town of SantaThis must be the third - fourth? - time that I have re-read this book when I picked it up so many, many years ago when visiting my home town of Santa Barbara with my brother. I remember going to the Borders that used to be a bank and this book sitting on a pile on the steps. The cover drew me in and the story kept me going throughout that trip.
It's so funny how I remember so clearly the day I picked up this book, my first Patricia McKillip, which is quite rare.
But even on this new telling of Tam Lin, this new reading with new eyes, I am still at a loss for a story that I feel will go on forever and ever with no end in sight. It feels so jarring to come to the last page and realize that the story has ended. Or has it? It has at least in terms of words written and pages turned. And even now I am unsure of what to say. I still love this book because of my previous memories tied to it but it is most assuredly not my favorite of Ms. McKillip's books. I always return to this book confused because I can never remember the story or how it ends. Unlike any of her other books.
And unlike any of her other books I always seem to come back to this book with a blank slate even knowing that I have read it before. None of it sticks with me except for the beautiful way words are weaved into this story making it feel so real. This could be from the very rare first-person perspective that is not often used by Ms. McKillip but that is not quite it either. I don't know what it is about this book that captivates me and engrosses me and then spits me out on the last page unawares.
I am sorry that this is not a true 'review' as such but rather my meandering memories into the annuls of time. This is a beautifully and tightly written book that never fails to leave me dazed and confused when I finish it, even knowing that I will re-read it again at a future date with the story forgotten....more