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The Essential Bordertown

(Borderland #7)

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  922 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Bordertown. Once a normal American city, now a perilous nexus between the World and returned Elfland. From the banks of the addictive Mad River to the all-night clublands where young elves and humans fight and play, all the way up to glittering dragon's Tooth Hill, where high society seals itself away from the street--this is no city to trifle with.

Bordertown. A place of
Paperback, 383 pages
Published July 8th 1999 by Tor Books (first published 1998)
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Jul 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Posted at Shelf Inflicted

This is a fun and satisfying collection of stories about runaways. Some are running to something or away from something. Some are human, some halfie, and others are elves, or True Bloods, as they call themselves.

Bordertown is a city between the Human World and The True and Only Realm that is inhabited by the Fae folk. Elvin magic does not work in the World and technology does not work in the Realm. Both work in Bordertown inconsistently and with interesting effects.

Althea Ann
May 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Read in 1999, not reviewed at the time.

Re-read 5/2016:
“Socks” by Delia Sherman
At a flophouse where a group of misfit kids, including one girl known derisively as 'Socks,' has found a degree of safety and protection, a new girl comes into the fold. Tough-talking and damaged, she's full of unlikely stories about her mother being a runaway princess of Elfland. But more of her tales might be true than one might guess, and she could help Socks heal, in more ways than one.

I found this a bit more
Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Having just finished this book, I feel as though I’ve come home from a week spent walking the wild, gritty streets of Bordertown. The memories of madness, desperation, beauty, grime, and magic still cling to me, and I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to easily shake them off. Thirteen authors take the reader’s hand in this urban fantasy collection, lead the reader to the city limits and thrust them into a world of street kids, rock and roll, elves, enchantment, dreams and disappointments. The ...more
Jun 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
An interesting anthology of short stories based on Terri Windling's Bordertown. To sum up, Faerie/Arcadia/whathaveyou pops back into the real world. That doesn't work so well, so instead a magic Berlin Wall of sorts is put up, so ne'er will Earth and Faerie meet again. Except for Bordertown, which is basically stuck in the middle where humans and faeries, technology and magic, mix up, sometimes well, oftentimes not. This was my first foray into Bordertown, and I liked the setting; Bordertown has ...more
I love the Bordertown books, but this is my least favourite. I could never quite put my finger on why - I like the travel-guide sections between the stories, the stories themselves are hit or miss, but that's normal for anthologies, and there are some interesting characters.

Then I read an Amazon review (I think) that referred to this volume as "gentrified", and realized, by Jove, that's it exactly. It somehow feels gentrified.

Feb 05, 2012 rated it liked it
I was disappointed with this installment of the Borderland series. Gone were my favorite characters from the original books and gone were any memorable new characters. I was hoping for more adventures of the bands, gang members, runaways, and artists from the originals. Not only those things but I felt it didn't have the same "magic" or feel.
R. C.
Jul 07, 2009 added it
I like it. I will wish I had it next time I am on an airplane or a beach. I will perpetually wish I had it when I was twelve. But I am not in any of those places. And I need to read more important things.
Mar 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Great writers, but I couldn't get into it. May try it again another time in a different mood.
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
Meh. Depressing. Short shorts about a gritty fantasy world with too much 'real' world drama, underdeveloped characters and too many quirks and costumes for my taste.
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: urban-fantasy
While not all of the stories in this collection are absolutely wonderful, reading them is important if you have any interest in the development of the urban fantasy genre. Mostly stories, the remainder of this volume is sort of a newcomers' guide to Bordertown. What made this interesting is that this was the last volume of the series before the 13-year hiatus.
Stories by Patricia McKillip, Steven Brust, Midori Snyder and Charles de Lint are among the best in my opinion, but your mileage may
Another Borderland anthology. This one didn't stick in my mind the way that Bordertown did, but going back through it once I started reading the first story I discovered that I had read it before. And then it turns out that the stories I liked the best weren't any of the stories that I remembered.

My favorite part of the book wasn't any of the stories at all, it was the Guide to Bordertown segments inserted between the stories written from the perspective of a bunch of Bordertown kids. As such,
I just love Bordertown, both the concept of the writing in a shared universe and the place and its stories themselves. While it may not appeal to fans of classic sword-and-sorcery fantasy epics, I think the whole runaways/punk/unreliable-magic is both ingenious and endlessly entertaining, albeit somewhat in the charcoal grey part of the emotional spectrum.

This one, which provides a nice guide that will elucidate only enough to tease if you're not already familiar with Bordertown conventions,
I felt that this book started out much stronger than it ended. It was a very neat idea; a guidebook to the Bordertown between the human world and the elven world, interspersed with short stories about various aspects of life in this mythical town. The concept itself is fascinating and there is some pretty impressive world building, just because there were so many authors involved. The stories started off very well, and I sped through most of the book in a day. The last few stories stopped ...more
Dec 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
This collection is right up there with Lost Souls at the top of my guilty pleasures list. Unrelentingly "twee" tales of adventurous kids running away to the glittery 24/7 RenFair that is Bordertown with dreams of being rock stars and hanging out with elves, only to find themselves stumbling around like clueless noobs while struggling to find a place to fit in in a town full of misfits. Taking the same "shared world" approach as the Thieve's World series, the Bordertown stories are more fun and ...more
Hannah Laurel Overstreet
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Essential Bordertown, as with all the Bordertown anthologies, is an incredible new kind of teen urban fantasy. It deals with all the well-known “teenage problems” – particularly cultural identity – in a magical, energetic way by turning them into wonderfully plotted metaphors that are both entertaining and insightful. That said, Bordertown is more than a series of self-help essays in fantasy short-story format. Bordertown, in its own way, represents a bit of a movement in teen fantasy, which ...more
Feb 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is an anthology of stories set in Bordertown, a gritty city perched between the modern human world and the Realms of Faerie. Interspersed with short stories by such favorites as Charles de Lint, Midori Snyder, and Ellen Kushner are exerpts from a "traveller's guide" to Bordertown, detailing where to find good eats and how to avoid offending the Truebloods (elves to you and me). Like all anthologies, there are stories that are better than others, but overall it's a real gem and a hell of a ...more
Dec 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Forget where I heard about this but the idea of elves meet the real world sounded more interesting than the execution. The setting is a somewhat derelict town of drifters and gangs that borders the human technology world and the elven magical world, where neither magic nor technology work reliably. The theme that was repeated too much was about outcasts running here to fit in with all the others, the message obviously being about runaways and the homeless.
Mar 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: urban-fantasy
A wonderful collection of fantasy authors who all work off the same premise. The world of the Fae has bumped up against our own world and created a no-man's (or elf's) land where magic and technology only sometimes works and often goes wrong. Also the two races only sometime get along. Great stories about run-away teens and bad ass Fae with attitudes. Not your high minded Tolkien elves in this town and half breeds better hide.
Mar 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I love this world, and the way this anthology is put together (the guidebook sections are, I think, a stroke of genius), and the way everything dovetails. It's just fabulous. I've actually owned two copies, because after spending years in my backpack the paperback copy eventually looked too miserable for me to subject it to further indignities. I managed to lay hands on a hardback, which I've been kinder to (not needing to tote a backpack around helps).
Feb 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was a fabulous collection. It reads like a travel guide for a place called Borderland. Chapters about where to stay, where to see live music, and how to get to Borderland are followed by stories that match up with the previous chapter. I especially love the part that this is a land that was made up by someone, but that has inspired so many author's to write their own stories from the perspective of any they can think of in this city of characters.
Mar 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love all the Bordertown stories, but this is an exceptionally well-done collection. I like the layout of the book as a guidebook and the connection between the introduction segments and the short stories. All of the characters are interesting and the stories layer on top of each other well. Despite some of the hardships and tragedies that the book highlights as part of Bordertown, you can still feel the romance and wonder that are part of this world, too.
Sep 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
I liked the concept surrounding this book. Basically the Fairyland has returned, and with it the elves. And the book is stories about the border between elves and humans. It leads to some interesting stuff about racism, and both magic and technology only work about half the time, which can also lead to fun. But mostly these are all character stories. None of them are bad, but I also wouldn't say they're particularly amazing either, as a group. Entertaining, but not amazing.
May 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Collections of short stories generally aren't my thing, but this book has been on my radar for a long time, so it was time to read it. I really enjoyed the different stories being tied together by location. Most of the shorter stories I wanted to be longer, and most of the longer stories I thought dragged on a little too long. Over all I am glad I read this book, but it was a bit of a disappointment.
Jun 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
A fairly even collection - and some new authors to explore. The punctuating definitions and explanations of Bordertown grew thin as the book progressed and became completely unnecessary by the close of the book - but just skip over those and delve into the stories. They give you a better definition of Bordertown through your own imagination without beating you over the head.
Aug 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
The short stories are always a fun mix - reminding me of nothing so much as War for the Oaks but obviously not novel length. They're rarely totally sad, which I heartily approve of and Bordertown is at least as well developed as Lint's Newford - considering the anthologies always have multiple authors that's saying something.

Good author selection, too!
Mar 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'm so sad I didn't discover Bordertown when it first came out. I love it so much now, I can only imagine how much I would have adored it then. (And I find it really frustrating that I can't get the ones that came before this one because they're out of print.)
Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Collection of short stories regarding bordertown, on the edge of the real world and fairy. Love the different tales of the misfits that inhabit this town. If you like the original bordertown, you will definitely like this one too. Multiple authors.
Aspen Junge
Dec 12, 2015 rated it liked it
One of the earlier shared-world urban fantasy books. Bordertown is populated with all sorts from the World (humans) and the Realm (elves) in an uneasy co-existence. The Bordertown stories focus on the romantics and runaways who find their way to live as best they can.
May 13, 2012 added it
Shelves: urban-fantasy
Love the setting of these short stories and appreciate the anarchic mature of Bordertown. Some appeal more than others which makes the book hard to rate but would gladly continue reading any more anthologies set here.
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Terri Windling is an American editor, artist, essayist, and the author of books for both children and adults. Windling has won nine World Fantasy Awards, the Mythopoeic Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and her collection The Armless Maiden appeared on the short-list for the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. She was also honored with SFWA's Soltice Award in 2010, a life achievement award for "significant ...more

Other books in the series

Borderland (8 books)
  • Borderland (Borderland, #1)
  • Bordertown (Borderland, #2)
  • Life on the Border  (Borderland, #3)
  • Elsewhere (Borderlands, #4)
  • Nevernever (Borderland, #5)
  • Finder (Borderland, #6)
  • Welcome to Bordertown (Borderland, #8)