Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Alphabet Anthologies #3

C is for Chimera

Rate this book
This installment of Rhonda Parrish’s alphabet anthology series asks skilled storytellers to write around the theme of chimera. The resulting tales are part fable, part poem, part dream. But like any chimera, the parts make up a greater whole.

Blend reality with fantasy. Mesh science fiction with mystery. Mix history with what should have been. They are all chimera.

A shadow tells a tale of schoolyard bullies. A long-vanished monster returns from the cold dark. Make-up makes up a life. Alchemy, Atlantis, and apocalypse. These 26 tales bring both chaos and closure to dark and elusively fantastic geographies.

Contributing authors include:

~ Alexandra Seidel ~ KV Taylor ~ Marge Simon ~ Pete Aldin ~ Michael M. Jones ~ Simon Kewin ~ BD Wilson ~ Gabrielle Harbowy ~ Sara Cleto ~ Megan Engelhardt ~ Michael Fosburg ~ Megan Arkenberg ~ Lilah Wild ~ Laura VanArendonk Baugh ~ Milo James Fowler ~ Brittany Warman ~ Michael B. Tager ~ L.S. Johnson ~ Beth Cato ~ C.S. MacCath ~ Sammantha Kymmell-Harvey ~ Steve Bornstein ~ Suzanne van Rooyen ~ Michael Kellar ~ Jonathan C. Parrish ~ Amanda C. Davis ~

274 pages, Paperback

First published April 12, 2016

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Rhonda Parrish

99 books221 followers
Like a magpie, Rhonda Parrish is constantly distracted by shiny things. She’s the editor of many anthologies and author of plenty of books, stories and poems.

She lives with her husband and cats in Edmonton, Alberta, and she can often be found there playing Dungeons and Dragons, bingeing crime dramas. making blankets or cheering on the Oilers.

Her website, updated regularly, is at http://www.rhondaparrish.com and her Patreon, updated even more regularly, is at https://www.patreon.com/RhondaParrish.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
10 (38%)
4 stars
15 (57%)
3 stars
1 (3%)
2 stars
0 (0%)
1 star
0 (0%)
Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews
Profile Image for Jennifer.
778 reviews39 followers
February 20, 2016
[Note: I received an electronic ARC of this anthology, and both the editor and a couple contributors are friends of mine. Just FYI, in the interests of full disclosure.]

The thing I love about anthologies is that they're always such a mixed bag. And Rhonda Parrish does an especially good job of mixing it up with her alphabet anthologies. C is for Chimera invokes both the mythological beast and the Frankenstein's monster of modern science, and the stories cover everything from traditional folk stories to far-future science fiction, and range from straightforward tales to offerings I'd define more as prose poems.

Of the latter, C. S. McCath's "T is for Three (at the End of All Things)" is an elegant elegy,blending scientific theories of the beginning and ending of universes with the more immediate concerns of living things.

Beth Cato's "S is for Slide" views a post-apocalyptic world through the eyes of a child who's been changed in order to survive--but who hasn't lost all his original nature.

On the more fantastical side of things, "N is for New Beginnings" by Laura VanArendonk Baugh and "I is for Ignite" by Sara Cleto were my favorites of the anthology, blending fairy tale and myth with characters who want to step outside the bounds their worlds have set for them.

These are just a few of the tales in C is for Chimera, and I dare say it's an anthology with something for just about anyone who likes short speculative fiction.

Profile Image for Elesha.
Author 1 book15 followers
February 29, 2016
I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I quite enjoyed this book, though it took me a little longer to read. I was impressed with the wide variety of stories inside. Not all of them were for me, but they were all very well written. There is definitely something in here for everyone. The different ways the author used the theme chimera was amazing.

There are 26 stories in this anthology that range from fantasy to sci-fi to dark to hopeful to just plain weird (in a good way).

I recommend picking this anthology up if you like a variety of tales that will facinate you.
Profile Image for Stephanie A. Cain.
Author 19 books49 followers
April 6, 2016
I was lucky enough to score an e-ARC of Rhonda Parrish's latest alphabet anthology, C is for Chimera, in exchange for an honest review. Releasing April 12, this book is a good showcase for Parrish's literary curatorship. I'm a huge fan of Parrish's anthologies, from Fae to Corvidae and its companion Scarecrow, so I jumped at a chance to review her latest. And while this definitely has a different feel than her Magical Menagerie series, her skilled editorial touch is still obvious.

First, I should explain that each of the alphabet anthologies has 26 stories, one for each letter of the alphabet. The title of each story is listed at the end of the story, rather than the beginning, so I'll just be referring to each story by its assigned letter. I don't want to spoil you!

Alexandra Seidel's gruesome "A" follows Etia and her twin sister, the narrator, into the world of alchemy and chimaerae. The story is an eloquent descent into madness, and the world-building is subtle and deft. "A" plunges the reader into the anthology full speed ahead.

"B" by KV Taylor is set in the United States of the 19th century. Jackson, a police officer, is asked to investigate the disappearance of the town doctor--a man with unusual habits. What Jackson finds is related in a wonderful voice that is folksy and friendly and ultimately renders the end of the story even more chilling.

"C" by Marge Simon is a short and vivid nightmare, as Robert dreams and dreams and dreams again--always of a beautiful woman asking him questions he can't answer. It leaves the reader feeling breathless and trapped within its tight writing. Pete Aldin's "D" is the perfect follow-up to "C". Alec wakes to find a very odd intruder in his bedroom. Or is he still dreaming? The conversation that follows is certainly bizarre enough for a dream, but the depth of emotion and layers of nuance in it are impressive.

"E" by Michael M. Jones is the story of a nameless girl spirit who flits through school hallways, torn between observing the world of the living and wondering about her mysterious past. But a group of bullies gets the spirit's attention, and she is forced to decide whether to become more than she is.

"F" by Simon Kewin begins with a haunting sentence: "Eventually he grew weary of the long winter he'd escaped to." So opens a cold, dark, windswept story of loneliness and yearning, of a being too long removed from the human race.

B.D. Wilson's story "G" is a chimera itself, cobbled together from the past and the present, just as main character Bairn is cobbled together from a theatrical world of ring-fighting and the life-or-death stakes of the Dogfights.

"H" by Gabrielle Harbowy is a short and chilling piece set in a laboratory. Harbowy makes every word count.

"I" by Sara Cleto is a delightful and beautifully written retelling of Cinderella...but this is not the Cinderella you're used to reading. We're given a strong, introspective main character, and a villain you wouldn't expect. This is honestly my favorite piece of the anthology.

Megan Englehardt's "J" is a fun, funny origin story, told in the tradition of Native American legends. With a strong narrative voice, it carries the reader along easily.

"K" by Michael Fosburg takes us on a nightmare journey through a blight-stricken world of steampunk and demons. The grief-stricken (and guilt-stricken) main character is complex and and compelling, and the setting is vivid.
"L" by Megan Arkenberg is atmospheric, the remote setting almost as important a character as the unnamed protagonist and those she interacts with. Arkenburg juxtaposes beauty and horror to create a gorgeous little story of hope.

"M" by Lilah Wild asks the reader to examine your own self-image as the main character undergoes a metamorphosis inside a frenetic department store. It's a compelling piece.

"N" by Laura VanArendonk Baugh takes us back to the powerful kingdom of Atlantis, where a prophecy is badly received by the proud king. His son goes on a quest for truth alongside a temple bull dancer, and is forced to make some very difficult decisions. A neatly-executed coming-of-age story in a richly imagined setting.

"O" by Milo James Fowler is a tragic story written almost like a Biblical parable and set in what feels like the Old West. Gruesome and sad, it's a gorgeous story about love and fear.

I LOVE the format of "P" by Brittany Warman. Written up like a police case file, it details a macabre series of incidents that are somehow connected to a strange art exhibit in Manhattan. Warman forces the reader to ask herself about human nature and how others perceive us.

"Q" by Michael B. Tager takes the reader on an introspective journey as a student and master leave their monastary on a pilgrimage. Student and master discuss their beliefs as the student comes to understand the true source of their power.

L.S. Johnson's story for "R" probably ought to come with a trigger warning. It's a visceral deconstruction of a woman's life after one horrific incident--and it's a story of a transformation, of creating someone rare and wonderful out of violence. Gracefully told, the story is one that sticks with you.

"S" by Beth Cato takes us to a post-apocalytpic world where a tenacious doctor is working against the sickness that has ravaged her world. Her companion, Tiger Boy, shows us the world through the eyes of one of the survivors. Cato skillfully combines sorrow and hope in her short piece.

"T" by C.S. MacCath is a symphony of words, a glorious creation story that draws on physics and light and life.

"U" by Samantha Kymmell-Harvey is another marvelously crafted post-apocalyptic story, focusing on genetic experimentation and the unintended side effects. Beautifully written, this futuristic story resounds with the echoes of a time when women could be locked in institutions for being 'hysterical', and yet the story also carries the reader forward into a new world.

"V" by Steve Bornstein takes the classic fantasy beast-slaying trope and turns it on its head, as young Melick tracks people who raided his village and has an encounter with a chimera that changes his outlook. It's a fun fantasy adventure that makes a nice, light-hearted addition to this collection.

Suzanne van Rooyen's "W" is full of gorgeous sentences like this opening: "All the words I cannot say stain my skin in inky ribbons." As the story progresses, we experience the power of words, not only through the writing, but through the characters.

"X" by Michael Kellar is a strange and engaging tale of a woman who has an accident, and her not-quite-usual recovery afterwards, told in an almost dreamlike prose.

"Y" by Jonathan C. Parrish is a character piece about a man who has an unusual way of viewing the world, a fixation with light and color and sensation.

"Z" by Amanda C. Davis is a surreal science fiction story that touches on the human and the animal in all of us in a very unique way. It's a lovely and quiet way to end the anthology.

I enjoyed this anthology and highly recommend this to anyone who loves speculative fiction and short stories of the weird and wonderful.
Profile Image for Tony King.
35 reviews1 follower
September 6, 2016
The latest "alphabet anthology" from editor Rhonda Parrish (Poise and Pen Publishing) takes readers into dark places. The opening stories deliver an oppressive atmosphere which leads into warrens where even innocent creatures such as butterflies are soaked in menace and terror. However, just as the stories seem destined to be as unrelentingly bleak as the monsters they describe, hope and even joy emerge.

It may be hard to to envision 26 stories about Chimera. By definition, a Chimera is one of three things. Readers will encounter variations on all three in this collection. There are monsters, creatures that could only exist in the imagination and medical mashups. Not all the constructs are monsters nor are all the monsters constructs. We find humans behaving monstrously and monsters exhibiting more humanity than most humans.

The beauty of such an anthology lies in the varied flavours. Everyone will find something to like in this collection. But not every story will appealed to everyone, nor should they in such a varied anthology.

My own favourites include re-visions of the Frankenstein story, an animal fable, an ecological disaster, the fury of the gods in ancient Greece, a student and her master embark on a quest to understand the meaning of life, a woman's unexpected metamorphosis, a classic chimera's wise advice to a would-be combatant, a beautiful story about discovering one's voice, and two medical stories that raise questions about the nature of humanity explored by blending humans and animals.

Although I found some of the stories in C is for Chimera unbalanced in favour of atmosphere over plot, that's my bias. Still, I found over half the stories registered good to very good on my personal scale. A hearty, if sometimes disturbed, thumbs up.
Profile Image for Samantha Strong.
Author 15 books85 followers
February 10, 2017
Note: I received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I'm a fan of Rhonda Parrish's anthologies, and, as always, this one is great. The format is like the previous two (A is for Apocalypse, B is for Broken), where each author writes a story around a word beginning with their given letter. What I really love is that the word isn't given until the very end. Sometimes the word is obvious. Sometimes not so much.

A couple of the stories left me scratching my head in confusion, but since there are twenty-six in total, that's a pretty good ratio.

My favorites were M by Lilah Wild and R by L.S. Johnson. M was evocative, plunging me into the hustle and bustle of an overly busy store at Christmas as the main character has a brush with the supernatural. R was fascinating because I had four guesses as to what the word might be, and none of them were correct. Both were heart-breaking in their own ways, truly capturing the essence of the anthology.

If you can get your hands on it, I would recommend this anthology.
Profile Image for Shanlynn Walker.
Author 3 books56 followers
May 30, 2016
This book is a collection of short stories, each with a running theme and different perspective of a chimera. It's a hard book to rate, mostly because some of the stories I would definitely give five stars, and others... not so much. I will say I really liked most of the stories, but there are a few that I couldn't get into very much. I gave it four stars because I did find most of the stories entertaining, and I love good short stories if truth be known. I found myself reading them during my breaks at work, or while waiting for appointments.

One of my favorite stories is 'I is for Ignite.' It has a Cinderella-esque theme running through it, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who loves short stories, especially fiction-fantasy based. I have always liked stories/myths/legends of the chimaera, so I found it very entertaining and unique.
3 reviews
September 7, 2016
I have to admit up front that I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review, but I don't think this affects my opinion. C for Chimera is an anthology of 26 short stories, one for each letter of the alphabet. One fun aspect of the book is trying to guess the title of each story as this only appears at the end of each story. The stories are well-written and bring out the idea of Chimera in unusual ways. Especially memorable is the shocker B is for Butterfly, the reworking of the Cinderella story in I is for Ignite, and the futuristic vision of u is for Uncoded.
April 12, 2016
C is for Chimera is the third installment in the Alphabet Anthologies by Poise and Pen Publishing. Edited by Rhonda Parrish, this anthology contains 26 stories titled with a single letter of the alphabet. That letter refers to a theme, image, character, or plot device within the story, pitting the reader against the author in puzzling out what the letter symbolizes before the final page where its meaning is revealed. While the symbolism was obvious in a few of the chapters, several left me guessing, and “E” and “Q” sent me to the dictionary to look up the final word.

Many of the stories play on our assumptions about who and what is monstrous. This was most apparent in K.V. Taylor’s “B” and the gothic tale “L” by Megan Arkenberg, where men whose passion for scientific study become more monstrous than their creations, but it also occurs in “V” by Steve Bornstein, where the chimera teaches the hero, who is on a quest to recover the means of his livelihood, to question his own assumptions. “V” was one of my favorite chapters in this collection; Bornstein’s characters have distinctive speech patterns, and the lighthearted tone reminded me of comic fantasy such as Piers Anthony’s Xanth series or, more recently, Shrek. Simon Kewin’s “F” was also excellent, as he honoured the famous novel that inspired his story while delving into the mind and motivations of the so-called monster.

Becoming is an important theme in this book. Several characters shed their skins (sometimes literally) to become something that, despite outward appearances, is frequently more beautiful and certainly more powerful, self-assured or self-defined than the human form preceding it. “I” by Sara Cleto is another of my favourites; it subverts the Cinderella story in many ways, not least of which is the relationship between stepdaughter and mother-in-law. The oral tale “J” by Megan Englehardt, which draws upon Indigenous oral traditions and a lesser known but much loved mythical creature from North America, also plays upon this theme as the protagonist comes to appreciate his own unique strengths. But not all of the stories involve people (or monsters) that turn out better or wiser; in some, such as “P”, the central character commits murder as performance art to reveal the monsters within.

The cycle of life and death also permeates this book. Several of the authors portray death as an essential part in creating a chimera. In some cases, including the opening story by Alexandra Seidel, characters choose to become chimera, literally taking on the physical aspects of lions, snakes and goats to assume their mythical powers. In Michael B. Tager’s “Q”, the chimera is essential to the initiation of a novice into a caste of magic-using women who become, as the elderly master describes, “peacekeepers and queens and warriors”.

Several chapters tackle important social issues such as bullying, domestic violence, and sexual assault. I enjoyed the range of topics, settings and genres from fairy tales to steampunk and science fiction, not to mention poetry, a thriller told through transcripts of media interviews and 9-1-1 calls (“P” by Brittany Warman again), and even one by C.S. MacCath that seemed to be about physics as much as creation myths.

The quality of writing was somewhat uneven, which is hardly surprising in a collection featuring 26 authors, and I noticed a few typos. Nonetheless, I was impressed with the scope of this anthology and the breadth of imagination the authors brought to their letter of the alphabet. Some of these tales might not make comfortable bedtime reading – I squirmed when I reached the line about shutters coming down in “R” by L.S. Johnson – but if you are looking for something to read in short sittings and you’re open to many genres within the literature of the fantastic, then C is for Chimera is an enjoyable choice.
Profile Image for Clive Tern.
Author 6 books3 followers
September 7, 2016
Reading an anthology is like having a selection box of chocolates (a cliche, but only because it's true). You may not love every single story, but there's not one that'll be left unread. C for Chimera is like having a premium selection box. I was always going to zero in on Beth Cato's story (S), and wow it did not disappoint. My favorite was Laura VanArendonk Baugh's N. What I love about the collection is the varied styles, tones, and story constructions; you never have a 'didn't I just read this' moment. And of course, with them being short stories they are ideal for filling those small spaces where holding the thread of a novel is tedious, and reading nothing is not an option.
Profile Image for Tabitha Lord.
Author 7 books65 followers
April 14, 2016
Rhonda Parrish’s Alphabet Anthology series had me at the first letter! Her latest installment, C is for Chimera, released this week, and maintains the top quality writing put forth in the first two. The chimeras in the collection, all creatures of mixed parts, are sometimes monstrous and sometimes wondrous. While each story has its own tone and style, together they bring the reader on a strange and fascinating journey.

You can read my interview with Rhonda Parrish - The Art of Anthology on BookClubBabble here: http://bookclubbabble.com/the-art-of-...
Profile Image for Sherry Ramsey.
Author 64 books125 followers
December 31, 2016
This imaginative anthology offers such a wide variety of stories, themes, and ideas that it's practically impossible to choose favourites. While the chimera is a unifying thread throughout the stories, the authors deal with the theme in stunningly different ways and interpretations. Although the flavour overall was a little darker than I might normally choose, I still enjoyed the stories and found them thought-provoking, and there is a broad mix of tone in the volume. If you like short speculative fiction you will not come away from this anthology disappointed.
Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.