Book review · short fiction collection

Book review: The New Voices of Fantasy

The New Voices of Fantasy, edited by Peter S. Beagle and  Jacob Weisman

new voices of fantasyDescription (from Tachyon Publications)

In these nineteen stories, the enfants terribles of fantasy have entered the building—a love-starved, ambulatory skyscraper. The New Voices of Fantasy is where you’ll discover the most exciting, must read, up-and-coming fantasy writers of the last five years.

Expected publication: August 8th 2017
A review copy (eARC) of this book was provided by the publisher through Netgalley. Some things might change in the final copy.

THIS COVER IS SO CUTE I COULD CRY. *ahem* The cast of authors is also really great. Either I had already read from them, or I knew their name and was excited to discover their writing, or didn’t know them and was also excited to discover new authors. Plus Peter S. Beagle is a big name in the fantasy world. So basically everything from the anthology here made me go “yes, this is good, I want it”.

Now, how does the inside compare to the outside?
From the word “fantasy” on the title I thought this was going to be more on the magic, sword fights, medieval setting and dragons side of fantasy. But it was more like a subtle fantasy touch added to everyday life, set in our world and our time. I also feel like it hovered more around horror and faerie tales at times. Not at all what I expected to be honest.

There were some stories that left me with no strong feelings, and other enchanted me. So to be fair to them all, I’m going to talk about them all separately, as I tend to do when reviewing anthologies. And a conclusion can be found at the bottom.

“Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong
So right upfront, I realised this anthology was not what I expected when I read this story. After the first stage of surprise and confusion, I grew to like this story very much. A story were a girl finds dates using Tinder, those dates usually being bad men and she… eats their awful thoughts. She has a crush on a girl and her activities will start to get in the way of leading a normal life.
Available here

“Selkie Stories are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar
I had never read about selkie stories so this one was a nice surprise. Sad, short and still lovely. But the construction of the tale was a bit too weird for me maybe.
trigger warning: graphic talk about suicide/attempted suicide
Available here

“Tornado’s Siren” by Brooke Bolander
I liked the idea of this story but it left me with no strong feeling. This is about a tornado falling in love with a young girl. We follow her up until adulthood and several encounters with the tornado.
Available here

“Left the Century to Sit Unmoved” by Sarah Pinsker
A very mysterious story about a lake and some people disappearing when they jump into it. It is a story about grief mostly, and about living alongside something people do not understand.
Available here

images“A Kiss with Teeth” by Max Gladstone
I really liked this story about a very old vampire trying to fit in the human world. Now a father, married to the girl who once chased him around the world, he has to try and forget he was a monster, but it is not as easy as it first sounds. I really loved the ending. I was really afraid I wouldn’t like the way the story would go, but in the end it was great.
Available here

“Jackalope Wives” by Ursula Vernon
This story made me think of the Selkie one from earlier. I really liked the main character (an old woman) and the twist was excellent!
Available here

“The Cartographer Wasps and Anarchist Bees” by E. Lily Yu
At this point of the anthology, this was my favourite!! Mostly because it was the one which felt the most like a fantasy story? It was about wasps trying to seize control and bees who rebelled. It made me think of Empire of the Ants by Bernard Werber.
Available here

“The Practical Witch’s Guide to Acquiring Real Estate” by A. C. Wise
This is exactly what the title says it is. Funny and original! I couldn’t stop grinning.
Available here

“The Tallest Doll in New York City” by Maria Dahvana Headley
Where building have feelings and move around the town. Another story that I really enjoyed for its inventiveness. BUT the fact that all the buildings are either male or female and end up kissing and making love and all because it’s valentine’s day… not so much. I like the idea, and it reminded me of Panic city by Madeline Ashby (found in the Cyber World anthology)
Available here

“The Haunting of Apollo A7LB” by Hannu Rajaniemi
I think people who loved Hidden Figures might really like this story! It focuses on an old black woman, who was a seamstress for the NASA. One night, the spacesuit she once made for a man she once loved comes back to her.

“Here Be Dragons” by Chris Tarry
This story focuses on two “dragonslayers”, and what become of them once people realised it was all a scam. Getting to know their kids, life at home…
It turned super dark, darker than what I expected and I just didn’t liked this at all. Sexist macho men are not fun to read about.
trigger warning: child abuse

“The One They Took Before” by Kelly Sandoval
Ohhh I really liked this story. It reminded me of Every Heart a Doorway because of the pain of going back to the mortal world after having tasted magic, beauty and immortality. But also the interior battle about whether to go back to ones captors, warn people… A really good story.
Available here

“Tiger Baby” by JY Yang
I am a bit torn about this story because I love shapeshifter stories and it didn’t turn out like I imagined it would. But the main character was just sad? I don’t know, she doesn’t have a cool life but also I feel she needed some kind of help and… I don’t know, I didn’t liked this as much as I hope I would unfortunately.

“The Duck” by Ben Loory
This was a really cute story that could have been in a children book! Here, a duck falls in love with a rock. It was mostly a story about friendship and acceptance.

“Wing” by Amal El-Mohtar
This was super short, a bit weird and unnexpected but charming.
Available here

“The Philosophers” by Adam Ehrlich Sachs
Three really short stories, not really connected appart from the fact that it focused on father/son relationship I believe? Didn’t really work for me.
Available here

“My Time Among the Bridge Blowers” by Eugene Fischer
Where a man travels to see and write about a mysterious people. Colonialism much? I’m sorry, I’m sure there must have been a message about it in this but this was really boring and I don’t know if it’s because I couldn’t care less about what was happening but it seemed like the longest story? Ugh. Sorry but no.

“The Husband Stitch” by Carmen Maria Machado
This was a very powerful story. While I didn’t love it because I felt ill at ease by all the sexual content, I understand what the author tried to do and convey and respect that! About a woman who gives everything to the men in her life but it is never enough. Quite the horror story in the end (even if I saw it coming).
Available here

pauper prince and the eucalyptus jinn

“The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn” by Usman T. Malik
About a young Pakistani man, obsessed with a story his grand-father told him when he was just a boy. He then goes on a quest to find the truth. This also felt like an overly long story but I did liked it. I was very eager to know what was going on.
Available here

So there were more stories which disappointed me than stories that I loved. This is a bit of a let down but I still don’t think this is “bad” anthology. I appreciated the great diversity of the voices and how the majority of the stories fit very well together. But since it wasn’t what I expected, and not the kind of stories I’m drawn to most of the time, I guess this is a “it’s not you it’s me” kind of thing.

Link to the original artwork for the cover, by Camille André! I had this as my phone lock-screen all the time I was reading this because it is so lovely ❤
And her tumblr.

4 thoughts on “Book review: The New Voices of Fantasy

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