Firebirds is more than simply an anthology -- it is a celebration of wonderful writing. It gathers together sixteen original stories by some of today's finest writers of fantasy and science fiction. Together, they have won virtually every major prize -- from the National Book Award to the World Fantasy Award to the Newbery Medal -- and have made best-seller lists worldwide. These authors, including Lloyd Alexander (The Chronicles of Prydain), Diana Wynne Jones (The Merlin Conspiracy), Garth Nix (The Abhorsen Trilogy), Patricia A. McKillip (Ombria in Shadow), Meredith Ann Pierce (The Darkangel Trilogy), and Nancy Farmer (The House of the Scorpion), each with his or her own inimitable style, tell stories that will entertain, provoke, startle, amuse, and resonate long after the last page has been turned.The writers featured in Firebirds all share a connection to Firebird Books, an imprint that is dedicated to publishing the best fantasy and science fiction for teenage and adult readers.
Sharyn November (www.sharyn.org) is senior editor for Viking Children's Books and editorial director of Firebird Books. She is a two-time World Fantasy Award Finalist (Professional category), and Firebirds Rising was a World Fantasy Award Finalist for Best Anthology.
(DISCLAIMER): I know that in the past I have fervently asserted my hatred of short stories . . . I’m sorry! I usually do REALLY dislike short stories, but this time is different – they are “Fantasy” short stories – delicious! (5 stars) "Cotillion" by Delia Sherman: I really liked this one. It was a retelling of the story of Tam Lin. Celia is attending her debutante ball, in 1969, when she meets an intriguing young man by the name of Valentine. But he is much more than he appears. And Celia might just be the only person who can save him. (4 stars) "The Baby in the Night Deposit Box" by Megan Whalen Turner: Interesting thought (if a bit unbelievable). Penny (Precious Treasure) was dropped in the Night Deposit box as an infant and is raised by the staff . . . but the secret of her birth is revealed in spectacular fashion at the end of the story. (5 stars) "Beauty" by Sherwood Smith: Is beauty only skin deep? Or is the loveliness of the soul the real treasure? Sherwood Smith explores this as she once again captures the attention of the audience who adored Crown Duel. Elestra is not beautiful, but – being the daughter of Shevraeth and Meliara – she is awesome! Pit her against the devilishly handsome Flauvic and we have a philosophical lesson in the making (with a bit of fiery bantering thrown in for good measure of course!) (3 stars) "Mariposa" by Nancy Springer: Very, very, very interesting. This is the story of a business woman who realizes her soul is missing. A play on modern society where it really does seem as if the majority of girls lose “themselves” in their haste to conform to the norm . . . strange theory . . . (2 stars) "Max Mondrosch" by Lloyd Alexander: I really thought that this would be a better story – it is Lloyd Alexander after all . . . but sadly I was not impressed. I would have much preferred a Prydain Chronicle short story. This was just a little creepy – a man cannot find a job no matter how hard he looks and at the end of the story he is beginning to cease to exist . . . CHILLS! (4 stars) "The Fall of Ys" by Meredith Ann Pierce: LOVED IT!! You go girl . . . that was one hell of a bad father (pardon my language). I cannot believe he “loved his daughter so much he could not be separated from her” and then he just left her to die! He deserves every bit of what the White Priestess did to him! The Princess Rocks! (3 stars) "Medusa" by Michael Cadnum: Finally someone looks at things from Medusa’s perspective – Arachne, get in line, everyone is dissing Athena! Medusa probably should not have slept with Poseidon ��� especially if she knew that he was engaged to Athena, and DEFINITELY not in Athena’s temple, but come on she is the human here, the responsibility for the evil lies squarely on Poseidon’s shoulders (not that Athena would EVER blame him!) Really I hate it when the (fairly blameless) girl is blamed! Go Michael Cadnum!! (skipped) "The Black Fox" by Emma Bull (adaptation) and Charles Vess (illustration): Ok confession time . . . I did not read this one. I respect the opinion of everyone who enjoys comics, but it is just not my thing. I have never figured out the way to read them where the story flows for me . . . skipped. (5 stars) "Byndley" by Patricia A. McKillip: Ms. McKillip . . . you are amazing! You have managed to stuff the entire plot of multiple novels into one charming (SHORT) story! I loved it. Man the Fairy Queen is just terrible . . . any unsuspecting young man who sees her should turn tail and run the other way! I’m serious, she’ll only give you heartache. (skipped) "The Lady of the Ice Garden" by Kara Dalkey: Ok what can I say . . . I don’t like the fairy tale of the Snow Queen . . . sorry Ms. Dalkey! Skipped. (5 stars) "Hope Chest" by Garth Nix: Awesomeness dude! Seriously more power to Annie Oakley! This was awesome. . .imagine Josey Wales, Resident Evil and Ann of Green Gables combined and you have Hope Chest – how do you people come up with this stuff? (4 stars) "Chasing the Wind" by Elizabeth E. Wein: Not so much fantasy as a cute story about “Aeroplanes”. And now I want to write about Mount Kilimanjaro – seriously, how cool of a name is that? (3 stars) "Little Dot" by Diana Wynne Jones: I don’t really like cats . . . so . . . interesting . . . (3 stars) "Remember Me" by Nancy Farmer: Story about a Changeling. I found the mother and daughter to be extremely mean-spirited. . . the dad had promise. Over all didn’t really like it . . . Sorry Ms. Farmer! I like your books! (5 stars) "Flotsam" by Nina Kiriki Hoffman: Besides Beauty this just might be my favorite story in this book. Poppy was brilliant, as was Becky’s whole family! LOVED it!! I hope that Ms. Hoffman will write some more stories about Poppy’s adventures in the future. (3 stars) "The Flying Woman" by Laurel Winter: Seriously I didn’t really get the point. It was sad, and I felt sorry for the sister who didn’t really seem to understand that her brother was in love with the Flying Woman until the very end . . . not that great, but not bad either.
Over all a delightful book with stories just long enough to please and just short enough to swallow in one sitting!
A collection of powerful, moving short stories by lots of great authors. Here's a list of the stories:
Cotillion - Celia meets the most wonderful guy at her debutante party. Trouble is, he has a dark secret only Celia can save him from. Very vivid imagery.
The Baby in the Night Deposit Box - Penny was left at the bank as a baby. She lives at the bank and doesn't go anywhere else. Can she save her town and real parents from an evil sorceress? I liked this one, especially the ending; it was short and sweet.
Beauty - Elestra has never been beautiful like her sisters. One day, she is kidnapped by the most beautiful man in the world - and both begin to learn what true beauty really means.
Mariposa - Aimee has lost her soul by becoming caught up with looks and popularity. What will happen when she gets it back? Beautifully written.
Max Mondrasch - This is a dark story about Max Mondrasch, a man who keeps trying to get a job but can't find one.
The Fall of Ys - The island of Ys falls because of the king's wickedness. Good story, but not particularly touching.
Medusa - Before Athena got jealous, Medusa was a lovely seductress. This story is written from her point of view.
The Black Fox - A graphic novel/short story based of the ballad. I didn't like it.
The Lady of the Ice Garden - Keiken and Girida are best friends, until an "oni" blade takes Keiken's friendship away. He rejects everything and is quite willingly taken by the Lady of the Ice Garden. Can Girida save him? Sad but very good.
Hope Chest - This one's my favorite. Alice was found on a train with a mysterious chest, never to be opened until her 16th birthday. On her sweet sixteen, Alice opens it and finds her birthright: to save the town from the menace of the Servants and the Master. But what will it cost her? Dark and gory.
Little Dot - A charming legend about cats and the sphinx.
Flotsam - Becky loves Danny Ortega, but they're "just friends." What happens when Poppy, a fairy from another world, comes along?
There's more stories, but I didn't get the chance to write all of them down.
As with all short story anthologies, it's a little hit or miss. Some of the stories are amazing, some are ho hum. I particularly liked The Baby in the Night Deposit Box, by Megan Whalen Turner. Also good: Max Mondrosch, by the inimitable Lloyd Alexander, and Garth Nix's disturbing yet wonderful Hope Chest.
Bought a copy so I could reread. Have done so, and enjoyed just as much as expected/ hoped. Sad, now, though, as I must part with the book. Highly recommended, and certainly not just to teens.
More fairy tale than sword&sorcery. More beauty, romance (in both senses of the word), literary value. Evocative, provocative, poetic, resonant, oh yeah. Even a bit of humor, both happy and dark. This is a book I would have read a hundred times when I was in my teens and over the next decades.
Now, well, I have to admit I didn't find any new authors to add to my to-read lists. The writing and ideas that are so wonderful are perfect in a short story anthology, but I'm not inclined to read a whole novel or series by any of them. Except Turner--my son keeps pushing The Thief on me, and since it's a Newbery I will read it someday.
I'm still looking for my Sgt. Pepper's of Young Adult short story collections. I need one that's hit after hit after hit. ... Does that book exist?
This was the closest I've come to what I'm looking for, but it's still not the book. Some stories had themes I wouldn't feel comfortable with having my 7th graders read, and a couple other stories just dragged. I about ditched the book half way through "Little Dot" - a story about a cat who could talk to a wizard and had no point whatsoever. (Maybe I'm just a dog person, but Dang.)
Of course, some stories were gold - like "Mariposa" about a girl who lost her soul; or "Beauty" in which an evil wizard was turned into a tree.
Some stories had a lot of similarities - "Baby in the Night Deposit Box" and "Hope Chest" both dealt with abandoned children and their destinies. (I loved "Hope Chest" - a Western, Supernatural, Hitler, Gunslingin' zombie-type story...)
And of course, other stories were as different as could be.
Once again it wasn't a bad collection, but ... (once again) not what I was looking for. I guess my CAP kids will have to wait a little longer.
Megan Whalen Turner's "The Baby in the Night Deposit Box" stole the show for me, here, and reminded me that I really ought to seek out more of her short fiction. Other favorites included Lloyd Alexander's "Max Mondrosch" (although with its existential despair about the working world, it feels a little out of place in young adult collection that otherwise verges on inspirational reading), Sherwood Smith's "Beauty," and Diana Wynne Jones's "Little Dot" (which plot-wise is a sort of unfocused, rambling mess, but won me over with a pitch-perfect cat point of view).
If this anthology feels like it starts stronger than it ends, it's possibly because so many of the stories are thematically similar--changelings, fairies, learning to embrace being different. I think I might have enjoyed it even more if I'd read it spread out over more time.
If for whatever reason you want to do the exact reverse of the thing that patriarchy does all the time and introduce yourself to a particular genre (fantasy literature, in this case, but it works with, oh, art and history and politics and sex and love as well) while pretending that it is exclusively the domain of women, this book will provide you with everything you need for getting as rich and full an experience as you would get doing it any other way.
I've had this hardcover sitting on my shelf for... well, I think I bought it shortly after it came out, so it's been over at decade, at least. I don't even know if I read any of the stories at that time. I figured I should probably get around to doing that!
Here are my thoughts on the individual stories:
"Cotillion" by Delia Sherman
This is a variation on the "Tam Lin" story, in which a girl named Janet has to save a young man from being a fairy sacrifice. I didn't love it, but part of that was because I was a bit confused about the setting. I guess we were supposed to figure out that it was set in 1969 just from a vague Vietnam reference and the way the main character was dressed (honestly, I thought she was just retro). I've read a few variations on this story, and to be honest, I didn't think this one really offered anything new or unique. 2.5 stars
"The Baby in the Night Deposit Box" by Megan Whalen Turner
I thought I might enjoy this one because I really love the author's The Thief. This definitely does have an interesting premise (a baby is mysteriously left in a deposit box at the local bank). The baby--who eventually grows to be a young woman and the hero of her own story--is black, which isn't an issue... except that it's revealed kind of late, resulting in a sort of violent mental adjustment for the reader. (I like knowing what the characters look like from the beginning.) 3 stars
"Beauty" by Sherwood Smith
Here's a story by the author of another of my childhood favourites, Wren to the Rescue. I didn't realize until I read the author's note at the end of it that it's based on characters from another of her series. It doesn't really matter, though; this story can stand on its own. And now I'm kind of curious about the world it's set in and the characters it follows. (I mean, there was a guy who got turned into a tree. Now I really want to know the details of how that happened!) 3.5 stars
"Mariposa" by Nancy Springer
I guess not every story can be a winner. I can sort of see what the author was trying to do here, but it didn't quite work. The story comes across as dated, repetitive, sexist, and slightly racist. The basic premise is that girls tend to lose their souls in the pursuit of being what society says they should be. I mean, you could look at it that way... but I also got the uneasy feeling that the story was also implying women were weak and silly for letting this happen. (Also, the phrase "remembering as if cozening back a dream" is used twice. That prose is so purple, it probably needs to let out the breath it didn't realize it was holding.) 1 star
"Max Mondrosch" by Lloyd Alexander
I guess I was expecting a little more fantasy from this particular author. With the exception of the ending (which could also be viewed as simply metaphorical), there's really nothing fantastical about this story. It's really more of a tragicomedy about a man trying (and failing) to find a job. It's well written and a quick read, but I don't think it really fits in this anthology of fantasy and sci-fi. 2 stars
"The Fall of Ys" by Meredith Ann Pierce
This is actually one of the stronger stories in this collection. It's inspired by an old Celtic myth, but changed up a bit so that it's not so misogynistic (the author's note at the end explains the original; wow... women just couldn't win). It reads like an old fairy tale, and I quite liked the style. It's one of the shorter stories in the book, but I wouldn't have minded if it had been a little longer. 3.5 stars
"Medusa" by Michael Cadnum
This story is too short. It's also kind of misogynistic and victim-blamey. It's interesting that what would've been okay in 2003 raises red flags in 2020. Basically, this is a retelling of the Medusa myth from Medusa's point of view. Athena is the villain, cursing Medusa because she dared to have consensual sex with a hot god. So the poor cursed girl turns her family to stone (and presumably lots of others, too, although that part is glossed over) and then we get to the point where Perseus chops her head off. With her last thought, Medusa begs Athena to give her the life she deserves... and Athena turns her into a rock. WTF? She deserves an eternity as a rock because some goddess got her peplos in a twist and cursed her? Whatever. 1.5 stars
"The Black Fox" by Emma Bull (adaptation) and Charles Vess (illustrations)
This one struck me as kind of unnecessary. It's an old ballad given a graphic-novel treatment. The poem is included, and after reading it, I can't really see why anyone would want to go to all the trouble of illustrating it; it's pretty boring. Charles Vess apparently did a whole series of these illustrated adaptations for a book. That's probably where this one should've remained. It doesn't quite fit here. It's all English snobbery with the devil thrown in at the end... and it's odd, to say the least. 2 stars
"Byndley" by Patricia A. McKillip
This is well-written, standard fantasy fare about a wizard named Reck who's trying to find a way into a magical realm so he can return something he stole from the faeries many years ago. While I wasn't blown away, I wasn't irked by anything, either, and quite enjoyed the writing style. I might have to check out more of McKillip's work in the future. 3.5 stars
"The Lady of the Ice Garden" by Kara Dalkey
While this retelling of "The Snow Queen", set in ancient Japan, is well written, it suffers from trying so hard to be feminist that it comes across as misandristic. Coupled with the statutory rape of a 13-year-old boy, the themes here aren't really appropriate for inclusion in a YA anthology. (And if you're hoping for something akin to Frozen, you'd best look elsewhere. Not that Frozen is even a good example of a retelling of "The Snow Queen". But I digress. "The Lady of the Ice Garden" is dark, depressing, and left me feeling like I'd just wasted a few minutes of my life.) 1.5 stars
"Hope Chest" by Garth Nix
This almost seems like it could've been written today as a commentary on charismatic politicians who threaten society. It seems to be an alternate history/fantasy sort of story about an abandoned girl who comes to town with an unopenable trunk. When she finally gets it open at age sixteen, she finds that it's full of guns. She then tries to take back the brainwashed town in a bloody display of marksmanship.
This is really gory, and focusses so much on the guns that I was about ready to scream. (I don't know what it is with some authors and their need to describe the guns in such excruciating detail. It's a gun. We get the idea.) Being a young adult story, it also featured the much-hated phrase about the unrealized held breath. Overall, it had some interesting moments, but I doubt I would ever read it again. 2 stars
"Chasing the Wind" by Elizabeth E. Wein
This story is a complete rip-off. It's pure historical fiction, so I don't know what it's doing in a sci-fi/fantasy anthology. (In the author's note, she says something about how she started writing a Somali-inspired alternate history fantasy... then decided she really wanted to write about "aeroplanes". Okay, so write about "aeroplanes" on your own time and write something in the assigned genre for inclusion here! I really don't get why this was allowed.)
And the story wasn't even that good. Aside from Martha wishing she were a Mary (it's a Biblical reference), there's no character development. It's just three people (and a couple of barfing cats) taking a plane ride across Kenya. There's little conflict, and the only interesting parts of the characters' histories are merely hinted at. This was a waste of time. 1.5 stars
"Little Dot" by Diana Wynne Jones
This is probably my favourite story in the book, and it's about cats. Since I don't like cats, that says something about my enjoyment of the rest of the book.
But this is a cute little story, told from the point of view of a cat named Little Dot, about a group of rescued cats, their wizard, and a beast that's stalking the neighbourhood. Magic and hijinks ensue. This was as strong as I expected it to be (it's Diana Wynne Jones, after all) and I quite enjoyed the feline characters, despite my initial misgivings. 4 stars
"Remember Me" by Nancy Farmer
A strange story about an unusual sister and an odd camping trip. I usually enjoy Nancy Farmer's writing, and I did enjoy this story (even though it was quite short). 3 stars
"Flotsam" by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
This is awful. The writing is stilted, the dialogue is even worse, and the whole thing comes across like it was written by a time traveller from the 1950s. (The bully's name--in a contemporary fantasy--is Shoog Kelly! I kept waiting for him to whip out his comb and give his hair a tweak.) Full of insignificant and confusing details (who gets changed in the hall closet when there's a perfectly good bathroom a couple of steps away?), this story is a whole lot of "skip it". 1 star
"The Flying Woman" by Laurel Winter
This story struck me as a bit sexist. The main character is a girl, but it's her brother who has all the power and the emotional journey. As a result, the main character seems like a bit of an accessory, there only to prop up the male secondary character. Basically, a sister and brother are sent to a deserted island because they can find and use magic (respectively). One day, a winged woman washes ashore. The brother appears to fall in love with her (probably because she's the only female around who isn't his sister). The winged woman is miserable and just wants to leave. She eventually does, and there's some sort of weird emotional resolution from the main character that doesn't seem to follow from the rest of the story (no matter how much the author might explain it in the note at the end; if you have to explain what you meant, and the reader still doesn't see it, you didn't do a very good job with the story itself). 2 stars
Overall, I'm disappointed. This is supposed to be an anthology of fantasy and science fiction, yet there were no science fiction stories that I could see, and "Chasing the Wind" is historical fiction with zero fantasy elements whatsoever.
If you're looking for fantasy stories, you might want to check out this collection. Just be aware that some of them seem a bit dated. If you're looking for science fiction, you'll have to look elsewhere.
Since this is an anthology (that's smart-person talk for a book of stories/poems/stuff) I've decided to go through and write little mini-reviews for each story as I read it. Here goes nuthin'.
Cotillion by Delia Sherman
This story was a remake of the legend of Tam Lin(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tam_Lin for more info on that). It read like the first chapter of a novel, which I really dislike in a short story. I didn't enjoy the weak characterization either. It was also rather boring. The only thing I liked was that the main character, Celia Townsend, was at least basically logical.
The Baby in The Night Deposit Box by Megan Whalen Turner
The Baby in he Night Deposit Box tells the story of a baby girl found in the night deposit box of a small-town bank.
This story is done in the classical short story style, with a clearly defined buildup and climax. It did kind of drag on in the beginning, though, and I would have liked it to have been a bit faster. It's nothing particularly special. Though the ending had a strange twist, is was still very mediocre.
Beauty by Sherwood Smith
Beauty is the story of the not-so-pretty Princess Elestra, a young princess trying to deal with being the plainest of her beautiful friends and family. When she wanders into her parents throne room, she is taken captive by the evil (but very handsome) Lord Flauvic.
I loved this story! The writing is good, it's interesting, and it was a really fun read. It is told in first-person, from Elestra's POV. I thought Elestra's voice was unique and I really began to like her. The only reason it isn't 5 stars is because it does read somewhat like the first chapter of a novel, like maybe it should've gone on a bit longer, but the ending was satisfactory I suppose. In the author's note at the end, it said that this story was also written as a kind of novella for Smith's other novel, Crown Duel.
Mariposa by Nancy Springer
This was a strange one. It was a modern-day fantasy kind of book about a young woman named Aimee, who had apparently lost her soul, or so she is told by her W.D. (Warlock Doctor a.k.a. Warlocter) and so returns to her childhood home to find said lost piece of herself.
This story, in it's own way, was as much about finding yourself as it was about not losing who you are. Over the years, Aimee had become very shallow and snobby, very soul-less. Always trying to have the in-fashion and be popular. It was strange, but I found her kooky mother and grandmother to be humorous. The writing was decent and it was entertaining enough. All in all it was a good story. Not a great, but good.
Max Mondrosch by Lloyd Alexander
Max Mondrosch is a short story about a guy looking for a job and getting denied over and over again.
I fail to see how this story classifies as either science fiction or fantasy. The fantastical elements simply are not present, except maybe at the very end. The word-building is fine, the story is told as a short story, but it's simply pointless. Maybe there is some deep symbolism to this short story, but I sure didn't catch it.
The Fall of Ys by Meredith Ann Pierce
A twist on the old Celtic legend of the seaside city of Ys, King Gralon, and his daughter. It was interesting enough. Not too much to say about this one. Just very average.
Medusa by Michael Cadnum
The authors version of the Greek legend of Medusa, told by her. I liked this story well enough. It was interesting to read a Greek myth from the supposed "monster's" point of view. I ended up actually feeling kind of bad for Medusa at the end.
The Black Fox adapted by Emma Bull, illustrated by Charles Vess
This one was interesting. The Black Fox starts with an old ballad about fox hunting, then launches into a motherflippin' graphic novella. Wow. I was so not expecting that. It was an interesting change of pace, both the graphic novella and the ballad. I was waiting for some kind of poem or song to appear in this book.
While I enjoyed the change of pace, the novella was a bit hard to understand as I felt the illustrations were sometimes unclear, and took a bit too long to get to the point of the story. It made this story alot less awesome than it should've been.
Byndley by Patricia A. McKillip
This was an okay story. It's a fantasy story about an accomplished wizard named Reck who just arrived in a strange little village called Byndley while bearing a mysteriously heavy pack.
The writing was okay, the characters were likeable and overall it was a good story. Kept me entertained, but didn't leave a lasting impression.
The Lady of The Ice Garden by Kara Dalkey
Thia was supposedly a remake of Hans Christian Andersons "The Snow Queen" with a Japanese flair.
It sucked majorly. It was soooooo slow and boring and overall pointless. The ending pretty much makes the entire goal of the story a moot point. Did not enjoy this one at all. I WANT MY WASTED BRAIN CELLS BACK.
Hope Chest by Garth Nix
What the f*ck heck was this? A baby is found abandoned at a train station atop an old steamer trunk in the small town of Denilburg. It was a normal abandoned-baby story until about halfway through.
Then it was...I don't know, alternate-reality? western? fantasy? I'm so confused. It was entertaining, and unlike a lot of the stories I've read, there was actual action. I just don't know... I gave it an extra half-star just for weirdness.
Chasing The Wind by Elizabeth E. Wein
The story of a preachers daughter on her way to spend the summer with her parents in Africa.
Of all the stories I've read so far, this one had the most realistic and well-developed characters. There is actual emotional depth, though it is rather slow at times. Overall, a very well-written story, though again I fail to see how it counts as fantasy or science fiction.
Little Dot by Diana Wynne Jones
Little Dot is the story of Turandot, a cat who lives on a farm with a wizard named Henry.
This was an amazingly cute story. First of all, I just loved how it was told first-person from Little Dot's POV. She was a very smart, sensible little cat. The other cats all have their own personalities and are really cute. It's interesting, has a happy ending, and was overall a very happy, fun tale.
Remember Me by Nancy Farmer
The story of a dysfunctional family's roadtrip to the desert.
Not very entertaining. It had meaning, but it was just not really gripping enough to make the reader care. Ella is stupid. Jessie isn't much better, and is mean to her sister, Flo. Just not a great story.
Flotsam by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
A teenage girl finds a lost stranger in the corner of a basketball court one Saturday morning, and learns that all may not be as it seems.
This is one of the longer stories in this book, but even so, I felt the length was just perfect the way it was. Becky, the main character, was well-written and realistic. It was quite bittersweet in the end, but I thought it was good and very entertaining, with a surprisingly moving ending.
The Flying Woman by Laurel Winter
An interesting story of a brother and sister abandoned on an island.
It's pretty good, though the actual flying woman doesn't come into the story until more than halfway through, and the ending seemed abrupt and really resolved nothing. Still, it was good enough.
Final tally: 16 stories!
3 favorite stories: Beauty, Little Dot, and Flotsam.
3 least favorite stories: Cotillion, The Lady of The Ice Garden (hated that one!), and Max Mondrosch.
Other Comments: Overall, this an okay collection of stories, most of them are only mediocre, but there are a few jewels in there.
Cotillion - While I'm not completely familiar with the story of Tam Lin, it was refreshing to see a modern day version of it that kept to the basic outline of the original. I love tales of faerie and romance, but what I really liked about this tale was that the heroine didn't immediately fall in love with the man she saved. Even if it is 1969, she was very grounded in reality. Sometimes stories of love at first sight with no mind about consequences irk me.
The Baby in the Night Deposit Box - There were a few things I had problems with in this story. I couldn't get into Penny's life so much. Most of what I saw were of the CPS lady and Homer, both of whom I hated. I didn't really like the fact that they were constantly fighting over her. I did, however, finally get into the story when the Enchantress came, but why did she have to return to the bank three times? And how did Penny know that it had to be three? There wasn't enough explanation about that. Who really knows if she's the Aunt or not. I would very much have preferred the security guard and his wife to take custody over Penny. Oh well. The last bit of dialogue made me laugh and in retrospect, the story was a little cute.
Beauty - When one thinks of romance, they think of the burning passion and falling in love at first sight. The great thing about this story is that it wasn't that. It was the story of the first signs of romance, where both parties don't understand what's going on and just react to each other normally. It was, for lack of a better word, beautiful. And the world itself was great, too. As realistic as one can get about a medieval magical world.
Mariposa - I don't know if all stories have messages in them, and perhaps I'm reaching in trying to find them, but Mariposa is such a cute little thing, a very short short story. A story about staying true to your childhood and embracing the whole of yourself. The added bonus of having souls in the shape of animals was completely adorable.
Max Mondrosch - Comedic horror indeed. Reading the Author's Note, it does seem like a tragedy of the usual hero.
The Fall of Ys - Riddles. I love riddles. Especially riddles given to siblings. Those usually tell the personality of a person, the mere essence of them. In this case, blaming inconsistency and selfishness on a woman's heart was a true reflection of the king's own nature. Anyway, Celtic stories taste grey and misty to me, with a touch of grass. This one was like that, but more icy and salty. The king got what he deserved, trying to steal his promise back from the Mistress Sea. Idiot.
Medusa - I love Greek Myths more than any literary morsel. So reading another side of Medusa's tale was definitely pleasing. I've read her a seductress, a victim, an innocent. This is the first time I've read her a strong woman. Props.
The Black Fox - I loved the transition from poem to graphic novel. Absolutely superb, though the font was a bit difficult to read. Burning wood sort of taste, lots of camouflage greens and browns.
Byndley - You think you're reading one thing, but at the end you're reading another. I liked how the town that was closest to magic, really was magic itself. Or perhaps what it was is that the magician never left Faerie in the first place, that everything was the illusion, until he gave back the globe. So many different ways to perceive it. It tastes of water gel and starlight and smells of hot metal.
The Lady of the Ice Garden - To be honest, I expected the heroine to marry the victim at the end of the story. To me, it wasn't that the oni blades showed his true nature, but actually exaggerated his negative side. It was unclear during the story if the effects of the oni blade had worn off. In any case, it was a nice Eastern take on a very Western story. I liked it.
Hope Chest - I wasn't expecting something almost reminiscent of Steam Punk to be in this story, but considering Garth Nix wrote it, there had to be another element of it that was supernatural. I wasn't disappointed. I did love the shooting aspect of it, and the rules. Ah, the Master reminded me of Hitler.
Chasing the Wind - I don't understand how this story is considered fantasy or science fiction. It was cute, nonetheless, and about discovering ones true purpose.
Little Dot - A story about cats! How adorable. I love how each little cat had a part to play, however small, in driving out Fara. Something was definitely off about her. I knew from the start.
Remember Me - A tale of finding where you belong. I like how in the Author's Note, she writes that people may have made up stories about Changelings to explain children with disabilities. That just made me so sad and, yet, it made so much sense.
Flotsam - Poppy is so funny. I love that in his reunion with his family, he helped Becky reunite with hers.
The Flying Woman - This one just killed me. There were parts that felt like Dr. Franklin's Island, so I was immediately invested in it. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the depressing and I, as well, got depressed by the end. I hope she finds a way to cheer up her brother.
I'm going to be honest, most of these stories are simply 'okay'. There are not very many that stood out to me, and there weren't many that we painfully awful either. In fact, I don't think any of these were so bad that I stopped reading it. Well, maybe one or two of them.
My favorites were Little Dot, Beauty, Flotsam, Baby in the Deposit Box, and Mariposa. My least favorites were Black Fox and Hope Chest.
The other ones were decent at best, some were more mediocre than others and some I just don't honestly remember despite reading them a day prior to writing this.
My least favorites were those two 'awful' ones that I was talking about. While neither was badly written, and I actually liked the lyrical part of Black Fox, both started out promising then turned into just a mess of blaaahhh. Spoilers for both stories ahead.
Black Fox was a comic, you see. And while I'm sure the art was decent for the time, the style was one I found didn't really match the story. The story itself was confusing in its comic form, and I reread it several times trying to understand what exactly it was trying to convey. In the lyrics before the comic, the fox is described as turning into Satan. In the comic, he's the Guardian of Hunters or something similar. The characters thank him for the great hunt in the comic, which didn't fit the beginning lyrics. I would have been okay with the comic if it hadn't included the lyrics at the beginning.
Hope Chest was exactly like Baby in the Deposit Box except with a train and set in the midwest. It was also significantly worse. This is really just a personal opinion, however, since I know that a lot of people consider this one of the stronger stories in this anthology. It started out okay, but once she got the chest open and an evil government official appeared, I knew that it had taken a turn for the worse. It literally turned into a gore fest for the last couple pages. There's nothing wrong with gore fests, but I wish there had been a bit more warning that it was going to include one.
All in all, it was an okay anthology. I would not read this to middle schoolers, to which it is targeted. There's a lot of violence and a bit of inappropriate romance in a few of the stories. I think the only ones worth sharing with younger-than-high-school students would be Beauty, Mariposa, Baby in the Deposit Box, and possibly Little Dot - though for a story about talking cats and wizards that one did get a bit violent.
The Baby in the Night Deposite Box by Nancy Whalen Turner This is a story about baby Penny, who one night is dropped into a bank's night deposite box. When the bank manager/owner comes into work the next morning he finds the baby in with the rest of the deposites and decided that it is the banks responsibility to raise her. In this short story we watch as Penny grows from a young baby to a young adult. It didn't have much fantasy in it until the very end. For me it ended right when it was getting good, again I felt this was a great set-up for a full-length novel, but it was an enjoyable story.
Beauty by Sherwood Smith I was pleasantly surprised to find that this story takes place in the same world of Crown Duel. It follows the daughter of Mel and Danric, who I loved, in the earlier books. Elestra is far from beautiful and is upset one evening and runs to the thrown room to get away, as soon as she enters the evil Flauvic (who had been imprisioned in a tree) takes her captive so he can make his escape. The curse that was placed on Flauvic in Court Duel has been lifted and although twenty years have passed he has hardly aged. All his family, friends and connections are long gone and he is all alone. As they travel toward the border a friendship grows between Elestra and Flauvic and before anything can really happen between them the story ends. I have mixed feelings about this one. Flauvic was such a "bad guy" in the Court Duel book it was hard for me to see him as a good guy in this one. I suppose living twenty years in a tree, losing everyone you know, and knowing that no one cared to rescue you is a pretty good punishment. Maybe he has learned a lesson and will strive to live a better life. The story ended a bit too quickly and I'm left wondering more about him then I ever was with the original story. It was fun revisiting and finding out how Mel and Danric are doing, although it didn't have the same magic from the other stories, it was still a fun read.
First, I didn’t realize that Firebirds was not just the name of the anthology, but a whole publishing imprint dedicated to Young Adult Science Fiction, which is really cool. Anyway, since it’s impossible to review all the varied stories in Firebirds, An Anthology of Original Fantasy and Science Fiction, I will highlight some of my favorite moments: “The Black Fox,” by Emma Bull and Charles Vess, starts with a traditional ballad, written out in stanza form, and then morphs into a graphic novel-type telling of the ballad’s story. Very cool! Diana Wynn-Jones’ “Little Dot” tells the story of a wizard living in the modern world. Garth Nix’s “Hope Chest” tells the story of a magic box from 1922, mashing up historical fiction with fantasy. There is much to be enjoyed here, by sci-fi and fantasy fans of all kinds.
Overall a far more enjoyable collection of stories than I anticipated. Ironically, one of my least favorites was the sole story I sought this anthology out to read in the first place (Cotillion, a rather indulgent, wish-fulfillment retelling of Tam Lin).
There were several good stories, but a few that stood out to me include:
An excellent collection of YA fantasy and science fiction short stories by a lot of great authors, including Lloyd Alexander, Kara Dalkey, Sherwood Smith, and Emma Bull. I particularly liked Garth Nix's "Hope Chest", a disturbing story about a girl who was left at a small town's train station as a baby, with only a hope chest; eventually she must use the contents of the chest to save her adopted family and the town from a would-be evil dictator. Diana Wynne Jones's contribution, "Little Dot", was my other favorite, a humorous and charming tale told from a cat's point of view.
I checked this out of the library for the Diana Wynne Jones story in it, but read the whole anthology. I'm not giving a star rating to each story, but I did keep a note of whether I felt positively or negatively toward each story when finished.
1. Cotillion by Delia Sherman + (was nice to start the anthology with a Tam Lin story, as Tam Lin is one of my favourite tales of all time.) 2. The Baby in the Night Deposit Box by Megan Whalen Turner + 3. Beauty by Sherwood Smith + 4. Mariposa by Nancy Springer - 5. Max Mondrosch by Lloyd Alexander - (and what this was doing in an anthology of "original fantasy and science fiction" I will never understand. Regardless of what the author put in his note at the end, that "this tale [is]...in any case, a fantasy", it absolutely is not. It's straight realist fiction and depressing realist fiction at that) 6. The Fall of Ys by Meredith Ann Pierce + 7. Medusa by Michael Cadnum + 8. The Black Fox by Emma Bull (adaptation) and Charles Vess (illustrations) - (and very negative. I didn't feel the characters were drawn clearly enough to distinguish one from another, so I couldn't tell who the various events were happening to, which meant the thread of the story was impossible to follow, and since the drawings did not impress me and the story had already been written out in verse in its entirety before the comic version started, it was worthless to me) 9. Byndley by Patricia A. McKillip + 10. The Lady of the Ice Garden by Kara Dalkey -/+ (started out with negative feeling toward the story, the end I felt more kindly toward. It gets the rating in the order of negative first because I felt more negatively than positively toward it overall, mainly because it does hurt me to read kind people being treated cruelly) 11. Hope Chest by Garth Nix +/- (might have fared better if it weren't the second of two "baby-from-a-different-world/not-entirely-human-baby left as a foundling with a note pinned to it and important objects beside it" stories in an anthology made up of only 16 stories. Overall more positive than negative, but left me feeling unfulfilled) 12. Chasing the Wind by Elizabeth E. Wein + (I made a note on my list after this one "but doesn't FIT" and it's another case, like #5, of a straight realist fiction story being included in an anthology that calls itself fantasy and science fiction. The author's note even explains that while the characters and their emotions are fiction, the events are all true. I did like it, but it did not belong.)
13. Little Dot by Dianna Wynne Jones ++ (would have been hard to get a negative from me, as a DWJ story, but even setting that aside I did enjoy it. Partly, of course, this is because I read the story while being cuddled and purred and kneaded and bullied by the cats that own me, and my sweetheart and I talk to each other on behalf of the cats, in their personalities, regularly. So this is a story that makes sense to my world. A little obvious, but still enjoyable.)
14. Remember Me by Nancy Farmer +/- (I felt torn about this one when I finished it, knew it'd be either a +/- or a -/+, but when I read the author's note I knew it had to be a +/- because I appreciate what she was saying and where her thoughts went with it. Mainly my negative feelings toward the story were similar to #10: it hurts me to read cruelty to innocent victims, and it especially hurts me to read cruelty where the person who is cruel gets away with it, is in some ways rewarded for it (by continuing to get what they want), and undergoes no awareness change. 15. Flotsam by Nina Kiriki Hoffman + 16. The Flying Woman by Laurel Winter - (sorry to end the book on a negative, too)
Once I'd finished, I looked at my list and came away with numbers. Of 16 stories, I walked away with completely positive feelings about 9, completely negative feelings about 4, mixed but more positive feelings about 2, and mixed by more negative feelings about 1. Being generous, that's 11 positive to 5 negative. Reasonable, though not ideal, it's basically 2/3rds positive. So in deciding whether that was worth 3 stars or 4, I thought about the anthology overall. It's not cohesive. It wasn't arranged well. The stories don't flow from one to another. Multiple stories didn't fit the basic premise of the anthology. So 3 stars. Glad I read it for the DWJ story, and I clearly enjoyed enough of the others that I'm glad I didn't just read hers and ignore the rest, but if hers hadn't been in the collection, I could have easily given it a miss and not been sorry.
My daughter has read this book twice, and even asked for a copy of her own last Christmas—so when she said I should read it too, I took that recommendation seriously. And she was right—Firebirds is, more than a decade after its release, a solid anthology of original short fantasy. The emphasis on "original" is important—though most of the authors were already well-known names even at the time, none of these stories had appeared elsewhere prior to being in these pages. I myself had not read any of them before.
I think a great deal of the credit for this book's strength belongs to its editor, Sharyn November, founder and editor of the Firebird imprint of the Penguin Group (USA) from which this volume takes its name. Not only were the individual stories well-chosen and arranged; the structural elements of the book were also carefully designed—November's decision to put the authors' biographies and notes after each one's story, rather than before them or all bunched at the end, was particularly wise.
All of the authors were contributors to the Firebird imprint. This lent Firebirds a thematic unity not always present even in themed anthologies. But the stories themselves are all different, and sometimes not even typical of the authors' own work (Lloyd Alexander admitted himself that "Max Mondrosch" in particular was extremely atypical).
Other stories I really liked: * Sherwood Smith's "Beauty," about a princess who wasn't as pretty as her sisters, and the enchanted tree that stood in her father's throne room. This story is apparently related to Smith's novels, if you've read any of those (I haven't, yet), but definitely stands on its own; * Nancy Springer's "Mariposa," about a young woman's misplaced soul; * "The Fall of Ys," by Meredith Ann Pierce, an alternative (and to my mind highly credible) reading of a Celtic myth; * "Flotsam," by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, which drops a mysterious stranger into a suburban teenager's life.
Honorable mention needs to go to Emma Bull's adaptation—ably illustrated by Charles Vess—of a ballad called "The Black Fox," which anchors the center of this volume.
Which is not to denigrate any of the other stories in this collection (except one, which I'll get to in a moment)—although I did wonder a little at the inclusion of "Chasing the Wind," by Elizabeth E. Wein, which did not seem to contain any supernatural elements at all—perhaps the exotic nature of the setting (1950s Kenya) was considered sufficient for most readers.
The only story I actively disliked—and the cold anger I felt at the end of this one actually unnerved me a little—was "Hope Chest," by Australian author Garth Nix, whose protagonist did not deserve to be jerked around so helplessly at her author's whim. Even the villain of the piece showed more human agency than poor manipulated Alice May. But that was just one story, out of the sixteen in this volume.
The most amazing thing about this anthology, though, the thing that lifts it into that category for me, is just how deeply it engaged both my darling daughter and her dumb old dad. Now, we have a lot in common, we two—maybe more than most fathers and daughters, though I haven't made any formal study—but still, we don't usually read the same things. The stories in Firebirds are, individually, not always great. That'd be too much to ask. But collectively they are amazing.
"Cotillion" by Delia Sherman "The Baby in the Night Deposit Box" by Megan Whalen Turner "Beauty" by Sherwood Smith "Mariposa" by Nancy Springer "Max Mondrosch" by Lloyd Alexander "The Fall of Ys" by Meredith Ann Pierce "Medusa" by Michael Cadnum "The Black Fox" by Emma Bull (adaptation) and Charles Vess (illustration) "Byndley" by Patricia A. McKillip "The Lady of the Ice Garden" by Kara Dalkey "Hope Chest" by Garth Nix "Chasing the Wind" by Elizabeth E. Wein "Little Dot" by Diana Wynne Jones "Remember Me" by Nancy Farmer "Flotsam" by Nina Kiriki Hoffman "The Flying Woman" by Laurel Winter
I love fantasy, sci-fi, and fiction. Some of the stories are just too childish for me, but (I'm not blaming the authors/editor/the whole book) I blame myself for that. This collection is better than Firebirds Rising: An Anthology of Original Science Fiction and Fantasy, mainly because I find it more mature and dark than the latter (and less of the too-lovey-dovey tales [very much less] or so I remember).
My favorites are (not in most-liked order, and it's almost all of them): Cotillion (re-telling of Tam Lin's story...not that I know much about it), The Lady of the Ice Garden (a re-make of the classic Snow Queen, and a very good one), Mariposa (deep and soulful), Medusa (how much would you like that it's Medusa telling the story?), Byndley, Little Dot (THIS IS AWESOME), and Flotsam. Chosen mainly because they induced onto me a greater emotional pull towards the fantasy world, and my imagination just surged towards those other worlds, besides instilling in me a deeper interest towards the unknown-making me ask questions that, I know, right now, are much too unknown. The others are not chosen, either because I simply cannot delve deep into the story (I cannot appreciate it), or the story is too dark for me, or it is too childish (i.e. lovey-dovey, with the exception of Cotillion).
Max Mondrosch, Hope Chest, and The Flying Woman are great stories in each of their own. Hope Chest is an inspiring tale as opposed to the other two, but their common point is that they are somehow dark and very mature. However, they failed to capture me because I simply cannot appreciate the setting and what each is trying to say to me. Beauty is one good story, simply telling each one of us that beauty is not skin deep, but for me, it failed with all due respect to all its efforts: it is too childish in my opinion. The Fall of Ys is a dark tale, a re-telling of ...actually, I forgot. I simply didn't like the idea of a daughter being fooled by his father.
I most liked: Cotillion, Mariposa and Little Dot. Little Dot: because it's too cute to handle-no, it's just amazing, really (I don't want to say anything on what it's about, okay). Cotillion: because it sent chills down my spine-too much thrill, suspense, love and imagination (and TAM LIN). Mariposa: because it made me wonder, 'how worldly can people get that their bodies become hollow shells for their empty souls?'.
All in all: a must-read for YA and fantasy lovers. Let your imagination do wonders.
In this kind of anthology, I tend to gravitate to the stories with the lightest touch. For better or for worse, this often means I like the funniest ones. So, I liked Diana Wynne Jones's "Little Dot," although it is about a cat and I understand might read to some people as kind of twee - for me, it was clever and an interesting update/twist on Puss 'n' Boots.
I also enjoyed two stories about mysteriously orphaned girls who grow up: the sweet, funny, and clever "The Baby in the Night Deposit Box" and the much darker quasi-Western "Hope Chest," which seemed a bit like a Coen Brothers movie. Two outliers particularly struck me: Lloyd Alexander's "Max Mondrosch," which explores despair and is ultimately quite disturbing, and Elizabeth Wein's "Chasing the Wind" - not a variety of sff (there aren't any science fiction stories, actually), but a well-written and engaging story set in an unusual time period for this kind of anthology. And I like Patricia McKillip a whole lot, so I enjoyed "Byndley," a short story about a wizard looking for redemption.
"Beauty" was a little schematic, but thoughtful and interesting. I liked "The Fall of Ys" a lot too, it's such an odd myth to begin with, and Meredith Ann Pierce does a good job of deconstructing it while keeping a mythic and mysterious atmosphere. Although I think "The Lady of the Ice Garden" was underdeveloped, I found a lot of what it did very interesting.
There were a couple of stories that didn't work for me at all, I think perhaps because some writers aren't naturally short story writers. (And ultimately, they were unsuccessful enough that it brought down my overall impression of this collection.) "Medusa" sanitizes the myth and thereby removes the central act of cruelty which makes it such a striking story of injustice (contrast it with "The Fall of Ys" which does a much better job of reimagining a myth!). "Mariposa" was unformed, and sort of dull, although there were one or two interesting ideas. "The Flying Woman" was completely unremarkable. "Flotsam" seemed interesting, but turned out mostly incoherent. A bunch of other reviews have singled out "Remember Me" but I'd prefer, um, to forget it. And I think the Emma Bull/Charles Vess collaboration suffered from its choice of source material.
This is one of the better anthologies I've read. All anthologies are something of a mixed bag. The reader's taste very seldom meshes exactly with the editor's, or the editor has had to make some compromises along the way. Firebirds is substantially above average.
The book is helped, of course, by having some very big names in SFF - Lloyd Alexander, Patricia A. McKillip, Garth Nix, to name a few. Aside from her first couple of books, I've never read anything by McKillip that wasn't terrific, and that's true here.
The value of anthologies is in introducing readers to new authors. Here, I read a story ("Beauty") by Sherwood Smith, an author I'd never heard of. I was struck by how well developed the world was for a short story. It turns out that's because it is a well developed world. But I nonetheless immediately went out and bought the related novel, Crown Duel. I'll be looking up Nancy Farmer as well. But this anthology also has some other surprises. "Max Mondrosch" was a startling departure from the Lloyd Alexander of the Chronicles of Prydain (The Book of Three), but no less good because of it.
The editor says she built the book around a graphic novel by Emma Bull and Charles Vess, and I looked forward to it. I'm sorry to say that that story is by far the weakest in the book. Happily, almost all the other stories range from good to excellent.
Firebirds is, as the full title indicates, an anthology. Meaning, it is not a novel, but a book with many short stories. There are 16 short stories, well, actually it is more like 15 short stories and a short comic. Each one is by a different author. Despite the title, none of the stories have anything to do with firebirds. The title comes from the Firebird imprint. This book was made to celebrate the creation of the Firebird imprint. There are also the books "Firebirds Rising" and "Firebirds Soaring" that are out as well. The three books are all part of the same anthology series, but otherwise have no connection.
I think the short stories are more aimed at teens, especially since the editor talks about providing enjoyable fantasy and science fiction stories for teens in her introduction.
It would be difficult to really go into complete detail of the contents since each story is different. Also, since they are short stories, it can be a bit difficult to say too much without giving too much away. I think my favorite would have to be "Mariposa". The story starts off with Aimee getting a diagnosis from a Warlock Doctor AKA Warlocter. She is told that she has lost her soul, which is apparently a common thing.
This was the second time I read stories in this book and I read some stories that I had skipped last time. But I still find Mariposa to be my favorite. A couple of other favorites of mine are "Beauty" and "Fall of Ys". Though "Baby in the Night Deposit Box" and "Little Dot" were entertaining as well.
Like most short fiction collections there are stories in Firebirds that are stronger than others and some that are weaker. Overall it's a rather good anthology. However, I am rather spoiled for fantastic short-fiction books (Neil Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors & Fragile Things, the Fairy Reel and Coyote Road collections edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling) so Firebirds in this circumstance does not measure up to the extremely strong compilations I've read before. It may be due simply to the lack of a unifying theme.
The stories in Firebirds range all over the spectrum of science-fiction and fantasy with some barely different from a realistic story and others being complete flights of fancy or magic. Overall it doesn't feel as honed as The Fairy Reel or The Coyote Road (both of which I recommend highly) but it is still a different and enjoyable enough read.
I especially recommend the stories Mariposa by Nancy Springer, The Black Fox by Emma Bull with illustrations by Charles Vess, Byndley by Patricia A. McKillip, Little Dot by Diana Wynne Jones, and Remember Me by Nancy Farmer since they are each a particularly unique and beautiful take on fantasy.
Like most anthologies, this book collects some great stories and some not-so-great stories. It features names I know and adore (Lloyd Alexander, Patricia McKillip, Megan Whalen Turner) and names I'd never heard before. While most of the stories stand alone, a couple are connected to longer works. Sherwood Smith's story is a sequel to her Crown Duel books, and Nina Kiriki Hoffman's story is said to be from "a longer work" which as far as I've been able to determine has yet to be published. The variety of authors and styles in this collection has inspired me to look into more of the authors' works, even when I wasn't impressed by the particular story included. (I'm convinced that Alexander's story was just a bad choice, as I've not read anything like it from him before.) Nancy Springer's story, "Mariposa," was one I didn't care for, but it made her novel about Mordred seem more logical, given some of the similar themes and plot devices she uses in both.
The best stories for my money were Turner's "The Baby in the Night Deposit Box," Smith's "Beauty," McKillip's "Byndley," and Garth Nix's "Hope Chest."
Not the best of Anthologies and not the worst either. Some stories were pretty well-made, while others were a bit... messy. One didn't even make sense...
The few that I liked though were: "Medusa" (a very interesting take on the normal story), "Chasing the Wind" (Elizabeth Wein's writing voice is unique and her characters and story, well-developed), "Little Dot"(cats are just so funny), "Hope Chest" (badass Alice May who's a pro at shooting - apparently it's in her blood, very Westerny) and "Beauty" (heroine & villain love thing :D)
For "The Lady of the Ice Garden"... now that was a depressing ending... I mean I read a book similar to that ("Breadcrumbs") but it had a MUCH happier ending...
The comic one was strange too... So the black fox was actually the Devil? Or was he a hunting god...? Still unclear about that.
"Cotillion" was weird too... It was so sudden... Apparently the dude's a faery offering or something... I have no clue.
The rest were ok I guess. I didn't really hate any of them. It's just that some were kind of confusing and not really to my taste.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
A collection of short stories from authors with books published by Firebird, a YA fantasy imprint. YA fantasy spans a wide range of reader maturity, and that range is evident in this collection. Nancy Springer's sugar-coated, condescendingly stupid "Mariposa" (which I hated, if you can't tell) is apparently directed at five-year-olds, while Garth Nix's awesome, bloody "Hope Chest" wouldn't be out of place in an adult horror collection. With the obvious exception of the Springer story, most of the stories ranged from middling-good (Sherwood Smith's "Beauty") to awesomely great (Nix). I was familiar with most of the authors (which included Lloyd Alexander, Emma Bull, (illustrator) Charles Vess, Diana Wynne Jones, and Patricia A. McKillip), but the anthology has spurred me to find further books by two unfamiliar authors. Megan Whalen Turner's "The Baby in the Night Deposit Box" manages to be funny and sweet without being cloying ("Mariposa," I am looking at you!), and Elizabeth E. Wein's "Chasing the Wind" is a charming story about a teenage girl's 1950 airplane flight across Africa.
My favorite stories in this anthology were "Little Dot" by Diana Wynn Jones-- a tale told from the perspective of a cat-- and "The Baby in the Night Deposit Box" by Megan Walen Turner. I also liked the Garth Nix story a lot. There are several re-tellings of fairy tales. Nancy Farmer's tale about a changeling/girl with a disability made me very uncomfortable. There is one story in this collection that does not seem to be genre at all: "Chasing the Wind" by Elizabeth E. Wein, a story about flying in planes in Africa in 1950, as told from the perspective of a missionary's daughter. I kept waiting for something fantastical to happen. Overall I enjoyed this anthology a lot and would recommend it to anyone interested in fantasy or young adult literature. It is labeled "An anthology of original fantasy and science fiction" but is mostly fantasy, as I find to be true of most YA genre fiction.