You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Year's Best Fantasy 9

Year's Best Fantasy 9 was published in 2009, with David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer as the editors. This edition contains some nice fantasy stories.

Marc Laidlaw's "Childrun" is a fantastic tale of a bard finding his way to a strange town. The town gates are closed but the schoolmarm lets him in. All the children have mysteriously disappeared from the town, except for one large infant that the schoolmarm takes care of. The story gets stranger as the townspeople sneak up on the schoolhouse and the bard tries to figure out an escape. The baby changes from weird to sinister.

One of the most striking stories is "The First Editions" by James Stoddard. In this story, the narrator visits a wizard who turns him into a book. The wizard places him on a bookshelf with other books where he gets to know the others who share his fate. The story develops in unexpected ways, surprising the reader. Another gem is Richard Parks' "Skin Deep", about a young woman who inherits from her grandmother the knowledge of the healing arts, as well as a set of skins that she wears to do specific tasks. The skins are not just tools: they affect the wearer and can take strength to control.

Richard Bowes' "If Angels Fight" is a supernatural story about a strong spirit who inhabits the scion of a New England political family. The spirit leaves and the young man dies, but the matriarch asks the narrator to find him again. The story is a little creepy but still somehow moving. Another supernatural story is "The Salting and Canning of Benevolence D.", by Al Michaud. In a lighter vein, it details the haunting of a man after getting a replacement tooth.

The stories range from witches to ghosts, from supernatural to science fantasy. Some are structured differently, like "Reader's Guide" by Lisa Goldstein and "A Buyer's Guide to Maps of Antarctica" by Catherynne M. Valente. Kim Wilkins' "The Forest" is a modern take on Hansel and Gretel. They are a wide variety of stories, all inventive. The best stories give a new take on life and the experience of being human, like "Skin Deep" and "The First Editions". There is enough action and fantastic places here for a lot of enjoyment. A-

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