Short Stories Reviews

The Fiddler of Bayou Teche

by Delia Sherman

[rating:5/5]

The great thing about new original fairy tales is the way they take old motifs, old themes and older tales and remix them in a new way to create a new story. “The Fiddler of Bayou Teche” by Delia Sherman combines several motifs of trickster tales along with myths and legends featuring musical instruments. The story that unfolds is a wonderful down to earth tale surrounding a trickster fiddler set in a deep south bayou.

The main character is a young albino girl named Cadence who lives in the swamp with the woman that adopted her, Tante Eulalie. Her mother serves the local loup-garou community as a medicine woman and plays the fiddle. Her mother cautions her against tricksters by sharing with her tales of warning. When her mother passes one winter Cadence ends up getting into trouble and being confronted by the very trickster her mother warned her against. Are the warnings and tales her mother armed her with enough to help protect her and allow her to survive?

There is a podcast of this fairy tale on the website Podcastle that features a fantastic reader, Elizabeth Green Musselman, and I really recommend hearing this fairy tale orally in this way almost more than reading it. It definitely adds to the experience.

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The Monsters of Heaven

by Nathan Ballingrud

[rating:4/5]

“The Monsters of Heaven” is a story that faces the very real tragedy a family has to deal with when they lose a child through abduction. Throw in supernatural monsters and a father slowly twisted by the untenable circumstances into a monster himself and you have one creepy horror story. The short story was published in The Years Best Fantasy and Horror 2008 and Inferno: New Tales of Terror and the Supernatural.

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The Last Worders

by Karen Joy Fowler

[rating:3/5]

“The Last Worders” is a fantasical story with some horror elements that definitely leaves you with a chill at the power of words. The short story was published in The Years Best Fantasy and Horror 2008. The story centers around twin sisters who have journeyed to the fictional town of San Margais chasing after a boy they have both fallen in love with to make him choose between them. On the journey we learn more about the twins, the town, and the poetry that seems to bind them together in a mesmerizing and faintly eerie story that is ultimately about the power of words to unify and to destroy us all.

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Zombies vs. Unicorns

[openbook booknumber=”9781416989530″][rating:4/5]

Which is better, the zombie or the unicorn?

Justine Larbalestier says that zombies are our own walking deaths. Funny, grim, and terrifying, they cannot be escaped. Unicorns are sparkly and pastel and fart rainbows.

Holly Black says that unicorns are healers, arbiters of justice, and, occasionally, majestic man-killers. Zombies drool and shed and probably carry diseases.

Some of today’s finest writers have chosen their side, creating dazzling stories about both creatures. So read on, and decide for yourself:

Are you Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

Just for the record I am Team Unicorn all the way. I have loved unicorns since I was very small. I had stuffed animal unicorns, my little pony action figures that were unicorns, even unicorn wallpaper on the walls of my bedroom (oh yes, there were rainbows too, why do you ask?). I was a huge fantasy fan even then. Zombies have been a much more recent addition to my life and while I do find them frightening intriguing frightening, but in an intriguing way, I don’t normally get much enjoyment out of reading about them.

With this attitude I cracked open Zombies vs. Unicorns, a short story anthology edited by Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black. The purpose of this book is to have a show down between short stories about zombies and short stories about unicorns to see which one would come out on top. Some of the best YA fantasy authors contributed to this collection and it shows. Even the stories that weren’t as powerful as some of the others still had a shine to them that I appreciated and I didn’t feel that there was a dull one in the bunch.

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Love Begins In Winter

[openbook booknumber=”9780061661471″][rating:4/5]

On the verge of giving up – anchored to dreams that never came true and to people who have long since disappeared from their lives – Van Booy’s characters walk the streets of these stark and beautiful stories until chance meetings with strangers force them to face responsibility for lives they thought had continued on without them.

This turned out to be a wonderful collection of uplifting stories about love, forgiveness, romance, family and hope. Each short story contained a character that had either given up hope or was at a crossroads in their life and had to make a decision or take a leap of faith or sometimes just open their eyes to see the love that was all around them and in some cases had been all along. They were all written wonderfully, very literary and lyrical with wonderful twists and turns that were at once completely surprising and then after some thought completely expected.

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