This is a huge omnibus of 36 stories and 7 poems as chosen by Ellen Datlow for works premiering in 2008. With so much to choose from, there are some wonderful standouts and some that just made me go, "Huh?" (luckily, only 3 of them made me do that). I read this throughout February (a story or sometimes two each night before bed), and now I just want all of the collections I don't have yet.
Here are some of my notes:
The Forest by Laird Barron - feels like you have to be high to appreciate it
The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate by Ted Chiang - an Egyptian fable about a Gate of Years which transports you 20 years into a fixed future - I really liked this one
Rats - by Veronica Schanoes - a familiar, darkly modernized fairy tale .. with rats - I liked this one too
The Swing by Don Tumasonis - where a swing appears to swallow up young girls - I liked this one, but it was one of those reads where you really need to pay attention to catch all of the nuances
My two favorites:
The Fiddler of Bayou Teche by Delia Sherman - about a girl named Cadence with white skin, hair, and pink eyes who was found in the swamp by loup-garous (werewolves) and raised by Tante Eulalie, a woman with many gifts, including healing, in her self-imposed swamp exile. Cadence eventually finds herself in a battle with a fiddler who can "fiddle the Devil out of Hell."
Winter's Wife by Elizabeth Hand - In Shaker Harbor, ME, Roderick Gale Winter, much beloved by his neighbors, including 15-year-old Justin, takes a wife from Iceland (Vaia). In Roderick's house, huldu folk reside as carvings in the beams of the house. When the King's Pines, three majestic pines near the water, are threatened by a wealthy and selfish area developer, strange happenings abound.
I love collections like these, and as I said before, reading this one made me put the others on my to-buy list. If you like fantastically dark tales, this is probably a collection you'll want too.
BOOK RATING: 4.5 out of 5 stars