Reading level: Adult
Size: 284 pages
Publisher: Prime Books
Release Date: June 6th, 2007
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
I was really looking forward to reading this series of short stories by Theodora Goss. It ended up being a wonderful collection of stories; most of them are dark and have a European fairy tale feel to them. Many of the stories are incredibly ironic and a bit ambiguous.
I am not even sure how to start describing these stories individually. The story “The Belt” tells a tale of a wife who learns what happens to her husband when she removes the belt he uses to restrain her. There is the story “Professor Berkowitz Stands on the Threshold” where a professor is given a choice: he can go into the magical unknown or return to his weary life…but he only gets one chance to make the choice. In “Letters From Budapest” a man receives mysterious letters from his brother telling of his descent into the art culture of Budapest and ultimately his demise via magical means. A reoccurring figure throughout is Miss Grey a witch of sorts who shows up in one story as a nanny, in another as a teacher of magic. All the stories are interesting in their own right and I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite.
Goss’s writing is dark, descriptive, atmospheric, magical, and at times a bit vague. Many times the reader is left to determine exactly what has happened, the stories are a bit ambiguous and are not spelled out for the reader. Most of the stories have a very fairy tale like vibe to them. I mean Grimm Brothers type fairy tales…a lot of the stories also have an Old World or European feel to them as well.
The writing is very descriptive and some of the earlier stories felt a bit disjointed, so it took me a couple stories to really get into Goss’s writing style. Once I did thought I found the book very hard to put down and was eager to see what wonders the next story held for me.
Overall a wonderful collection of dark fairy tale like stories, a wonderful writer. If you like dark fairy tales or stories with an old world feel to them this is the book for you. The writing style reminds some of Catherynne Valente or Elizabeth Hand; intelligently written, beautiful, and a bit vague (not everything is spelled out for the reader). I liked it a lot and will be keeping an eye out for future works from Goss. Definitely for adults only.