I wanted the anthology “Legends of Australian Fantasy” (edited by Jack Dann and Jonathan Strahan) as soon as I saw Juliet Marillier had contributed a Sevenwaters novella, but balked somewhat at the £32 I would have to pay for shipping from Australia. And then I saw the ebook version on Kobo – it’s £13 now, but I seem to recall it was slightly cheaper when I bought it (or I took advantage of the coupons they send out now and again). I snapped it up straightaway.
I’m just under halfway through and very surprisingly for me, have not encountered a dud so far. I should say here that although I love the idea of anthologies, when I actually end up reading them, I usually end up enjoying only a few stories in the entire book. Not so in this one – though I’ve loved some stories more than others, all the contributions have kept me reading through to the end. And even better, three out of the five read so far are by new-to-me authors.
Garth Nix’s “To Hold the Bridge: An Old Kingdom Story”: New-to me-author – and you can read his entire novella online for free at Kobo. It’s a YA fantasy, a coming-of-age tale, and one that made me wonder why I’ve never read any of his books before. Not that it was particularly original, but I liked the setting and story-telling. I’m going to have to actively search out his other Old Kingdom books.
Trudi Canavan’s “The Mad Apprentice: A Black Magician Story”: I’ve read the first book in her Black Magician trilogy way back when, but it didn’t capture my interest enough to continue. This novella is set in the same universe, though I believe it takes place long before the events of that series. It’s a story that illustrates the consequences of saying “just this once” over and over again, combined with some conflict around loyalty to one’s family. Slightly predictable, and I never quite engaged with the protagonist in this story (I recall I had a similar reaction to the first of her Black Magician’s trilogy).
Juliet Marillier’s “’Twixt Firelight and Water: A Tale of Sevenwaters”: I confess I dived in and started with this novella, which tells the story behind Fiacha the raven. For long-time Sevenwaters fans, Ciaran plays a role in this one and we find out what Padraic did next as well. I like how Ms Marillier played with present and past tense, alternating between Conri’s and Aisha’s viewpoint. It’s whetted my appetite for her new Sevenwaters book, “Seer of Sevenwaters”, out in this December.
Isobelle Carmody’s “The Dark Road: An Obernewtyn Story”: New-to-me author, and one I’ve been meaning to try, as I’ve heard excellent things about her Obernewtyn series. This was confusing in parts as I tried to piece together her universe. And it had an unpromising start as I had no idea what was going on when I started reading. BUT. I stuck with it and then I realised the confusion was on purpose, and the story was being told in a back-to-front way. I know I’m not making sense, but it was very clever. I was completely engrossed by the end, though I think I would have had enjoyed this story more if I had already read her Obernewtyn books.
Kim Wilkins’ “A Crown of Rowan: A Tale of Thrysland”: New-to-me author, and one I’ve never heard of. I liked the story and writing well enough, but it felt sort of open-ended, as though it was just setting the scene – and her author’s note at the end indicated that this story kicks off a series of epic fantasy books. I’m on the fence as to whether I would read them when they are published, but I would probably read something else by Ms Wilkins.
Still to read:
Sean Williams’ “The Spark (A Romance in Four Acts): A Tale of the Change”
DM Cornish’s “The Corsers’ Hinge: A Lamplighter Tale”
Ian Irvine’s “Tribute to Hell: A Tale of the Tainted Realm”
John Birmingham’s “A Captain of the Gate”
Jennifer Fallon’s “The Magic Word”
Cecilia Dart-Thornton’s “The Enchanted: A Tale of Erith”