Once again Chris Priestley presents us with a selection of ghostly tales covering a variety of sea-related monsters and frights linked together by an...moreOnce again Chris Priestley presents us with a selection of ghostly tales covering a variety of sea-related monsters and frights linked together by an intriguing tale of two sick children waiting for their father to return with the doctor. I enjoyed the previous tale – Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror (reviewed here), but I definitely preferred these selection of tales. The ongoing theme of nautical terror was a strong link between stories – after all what is scarier than being trapped on a ship with a bunch of strangers, surrounded by unfriendly seas for miles? Add a ghostly element, or a mermaid or even sea snails and suddenly you’re feeling ever so glad you’re sat firmly inland with the sea well out of sight reading a book rather than out on the big blue. As is usually the case with short stories, some are more memorable than others – the one about the sea snails definitely sticks with me! This time the link between stories was just as strong as the stories and I was intrigued about the sailor’s background and the children’s home life – how long would their father be gone? It was this linking theme that kept me turning the pages, wanting to know what happens next. The writing feels like a classic ghost story – ancient and yet modern at the same time. The words just flew by and I pretty much sailed through the book (yes, that pun was intended!). Plus how creepy is that cover? A great read for Halloween or any time a storm in brewing... Recommended for fans of Peter Beagle and R.L. Stine.(less)
This book is an anthology with three different novellas all set around the time of Christmas or a mid-winter festival. As the stories are so different...moreThis book is an anthology with three different novellas all set around the time of Christmas or a mid-winter festival. As the stories are so different I’m going to review each one separately.
Visit Leanna Renee Hieber's Strangely Beautiful Victorian London...haunted though these soot-stained urban alleys may be, a lonely headmistress and a gallant vicar shall here reap the season's blessings. This was my favourite story of the collection. It felt like reading a beautiful epilogue to the Strangely Beautiful series – a series I haven’t read but will definitely be looking into. Loosely based on A Christmas Carol, the headmistress and vicar who have given everything to help the world are finally rewarded. It was beautifully written with great characters and personalities shining through despite only a few pages to explore the world. I love the Victorian period and I am really intrigued to learn more about this world. 8 out of 10
Travel to Meridian and Sylph Valley where immensely powerful creatures called battle sylphs vie for dominance here, while fulfilling every wish of their queens. But what woman shall rule the mighty Mace? This is set in fantasy world where fae creatures called Sylph’s bond with human women to love and obey them. When Lily’s latest orphan runs away from home, she sends Mace to fetch him back and he ends up in the same town he passed through nineteen years ago and an old lover. The idea of Battle Sylphs is interesting and I’m not sure this story explores the idea completely, but this is mostly an exploration of family and rekindled love affair. However as I didn’t quite get the world I was a little underwhelmed. 7 out of 10.
Discover Helen Scott Taylor's land of The Magic Knot...In the frosty North, in the ice palace of Valhalla, Sonja's life depends upon unraveling the mystery of the Crystal Crib--and upon winning the love of Odin's son. Sonja goes to Iceland in order to win some business for her Aunt’s travel company but ends up meeting the father she never knew and discovering the truth of her past – helped of course by the masculine, tall son of Odin. This was my least favourite story as I don’t to like the insta-love (always unrealistic!). So many ideas are squeezed into such a small number pages I felt nothing was explored in details but just briefly touched upon. This disappointed me as I love mythology stories and the norse gods are usually fascinating. Disappointing. 5 out of 10.
Overall there is a real mix of stories here from a Victorian ghost story, to fantasy action to paranormal romance with gods. Personally I think it’s worth it for the Strangely Beautiful tale alone Recommended for fans of mammoth books of romance. 7 out of 10 (less)
This is an intriguing collection of stories. There are some flash fictions which are very short but do tend to raise a question or two and leave you w...moreThis is an intriguing collection of stories. There are some flash fictions which are very short but do tend to raise a question or two and leave you wondering. The longer stories though are more satisfying. My favourite is In The Garden which is a very different look at what happens in a garden and is a story I’ve been thinking about ever since. In fact I felt like that was a real strength of these stories – looking at something that was familiar but giving it a twist – like looking at the world in a mirror: everything is the same but reversed.
There are a couple of short stories set in the worlds Merrie has created in full length books which are interesting little insights into both world, but it’s not necessary to read the full length books to enjoy them. I was really intrigued by Letter For Home where in a short space of time Merrie has created an interesting science-fictional world in the vein of Blade Runner or the Culture novels and gave it some real emotional depth.
Merrie’s writing style is very lyrical and rich. It’s descriptive without labouring the point and full of detail. This anthology is a great sorbet between courses – refreshing, flavourful and palate cleaning! (less)