May was Short Story Month, so over the past few weeks, in addition to sampling a few anthologies, I decided to tackle all of Seanan McGuire’s Toby stories/novellas. Some highlights:
“Through This House” — in between Late Eclipses and One Salt Sea, Toby enters the abandoned knowe of Goldengreen for the first time since solving Evening Winterrose’s murder. But the knowe isn’t exactly welcoming to its new countess — found in the anthology Home Improvement: Undead Edition (subtitle: “Tales of haunted home repair and surreal estates”). Certainly a unique premise for a short story collection, and it’s not just the typical house ghosts. There are Buddhist spirits monitoring an ancient cave’s restoration, wizards installing home security systems, vampires (Charlaine Harris is one of the editors), and more.
“Rat-catcher” and “Forbid the Sea” — First is the short, bittersweet account of Tybalt’s rise to the throne in Londinium’s Court of Fogbound Cats. The second story is set ten years later, when the lonely king takes an impromptu vacation and meets a traveling selkie named Dylan. But as we’ve seen throughout the Daye series, relationships with selkies seem fated to end in heartbreak. It’s stories like these that show the best of McGuire’s style, much more subtle than in the Toby novels (as fun as those are).
Fantastic Alice, ed. Margaret Weis. Wonderland meets the “real” world. Modern folk find their problems answered either by visits from Lewis Carroll’s characters, or by being transported to Wonderland themselves. Picture the Cheshire Cat as an apartment guard animal, or a Cheshire-esque con artist in Hollywood. I only read the first few stories before the general tone got a bit too gloomy for my taste. Note: contains mature themes/situations.
“Never Shines the Sun” and “The Fixed Stars” — two Luidaeg stories. The first shows Annie’s first encounter with the child October Daye, before Toby’s first Choice. The second is set many hundreds of years in the past, during a battle between the merlins and the Firstborn. I would’ve liked more from the latter — more background, more info on who/what the merlins are and how they fit into McGuire’s Faerie. And I would’ve liked to actually see Oberon, Titania, and/or Maeve first-hand.
Did you participate in Short Story Month? What were some of your favorites?