Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Anthology/Urban Fantasy
Length: 432 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Swapped through Paperbackswap.com
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
“Broomsticks. Black Cats. Pointy Hats. They can mean only one thing – somewhere nearby, there must be a witch. From fairy tales to films to fiction, witches cast their spells and capture our imaginations.
Now the biggest names in fantasy and young adult literature have come together to make a little magic of their own. Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Diana Peterfreund, Margo Lanagan, Peter S. Beagle, and Garth Nix are just a few of the authors who have toiled over their cauldrons and conjured up bewitching new creations inspired by and celebrating the might and mystery of the witch. Assembled by one of the most well-regarded anthologists in the science fiction/fantasy world, this rich, intelligent collection will enchant readers of all ages.”
This is a collection of fantasy and urban fantasy stories from a variety of very famous fantasy authors. I’ve had in on my shelf to read for awhile. To be honest, while this was an okay collection of stories, it wasn’t great. There really weren’t any stories in here that grabbed me and absolutely sucked me in. I have rated them below and provided a brief description and thoughts on each.
Out of all the stories there were only a fews that really stick with me a few days after reading the book. Garth Nix’s “A Handful of Ashes” had excellent world-building and was an engaging read that I enjoyed. Ellen Kushner’s “The Threefold World” was beautifully written and had a very classic fantasy feel to it. “Which Witch” by Patricia A. McKillip was great fun to read and was an action packed urban fantasy that I really enjoyed. I also enjoyed Jane Yolen’s history of Hans Christian Andersen in “Andersen’s Witch”.
Overall this was an okay collection, but honestly I didn’t love it. I thought more of this was okay than was awesome. See below for details by story. Additionally I should mention this is an adult collection of fantasy stories (for some reason the cover had me thinking this was a middle grade collection of fantasy and it is definitely not).
“Stray Magic”, Diana Peterfreund (4/5 stars)
This was a cute story about a stray dog that is more than she seems to be. I liked it and thought it was interesting, touching, and sweet.
“Payment Due”, Frances Hardinge (3/5 stars)
In this story an older woman loses something special to her and a younger witch gets revenge for her. This was an okay story.
“A Handful of Ashes”, Garth Nix (4/5 stars)
This was a well done longer story. Nix did an excellent job of creating a believable and interesting world here with characters that you care about. This is about a school of young witches; a few of the witches end up having to counter an evil summoning.
“Little Gods”, Holly Black (3/5 stars)
This was an okay story that explains some Wiccan ceremonies. Not a lot happens in it and in general it was pretty boring, but okay.
“Barrio Girls”, Charles de Lint (4/5 stars)
This was a decent story about a couple of teen girls who go out looking for vampires at night and find something a bit different than they were expecting. I enjoyed it.
“Felidis”, Tanith Lee (3/5 stars)
In this story a young wandering man meets and falls in love with a woman who is half cat and half woman. As the story progresses she finds out she has many secrets. It was okay, but I thought it was a bit hard to read and didn’t flow all that well.
“Witch Work”, Neil Gaiman (4/5 stars)
This was a poem about a witch. I liked it and it was fine.
“The Education of a Witch”, Ellen Klages (4/5 stars)
This was a story about a young girl who is obsessed with Maleficent from Disney movies; this repels the people around her. When the young girl, Lizzie, finds out she has magic powers she takes it out on those around her. It was an entertaining story but it ended just as things were getting interesting.
“The Threefold World”, Ellen Kushner (4/5 stars)
This was the most well written story of the bunch so far. It is beautifully written with writing that flows very well. It’s about a man who flees his homeland to become a scholar and snubs all history from his native homeland. Then he meets and old man who shows him that his native homeland might provide answers to deep questions. I loved the folklore feel to it and loved how the main character grew and changed.
“The Witch in the Wood”, Delia Sherman (4/5 stars)
So far this is my second favorite story. I loved the magic and fae elements to it and enjoyed both the main characters. It’s about a young woman who is a very isolated witch; she meets and saves a young man who turns into a stag. Then she must unravel the curse around him.
“Which Witch”, Patricia A. McKillip (4/5 stars)
This was a cute and edgy urban fantasy story about a band (literally a musical band) of witches that ends up having to confront a horrible evil. I enjoyed it a lot; it was snappy and fast-paced and fun.
“The Carved Forest”, Tim Pratt (4/5 stars)
In this story an older brother goes to save his sister from apprenticeship to a witch only to find that the witch very literally controls the well-being of everyone in her town. This was a creative idea and generally entertaining. I enjoyed it.
“Burning Castles”, M. Rickert (2/5 stars)
I didn’t really like this story much. It’s very short and very ambiguous; I didn’t completely understand what was going on. It’s seems to be about a mother and daughter and the mother’s abusive husband.
“The Stone Witch”, Isobelle Carmody (4/5 stars)
This was an entertaining story in which a middle aged woman who doesn’t like children, ends up with a child as a familiar and off on a strange quest to prove that she deserves to be taught how to use her late-blooming with powers. I enjoyed it.
“Andersen’s Witch”, Jane Yolen (4/5 stars)
Another well done Yolen story in which we learn the supposed history of Hans CHristian Andersen and how he came up with all those wonderful children’s stories. I enjoyed this story a lot.
“B Is for Bigfoot”, Jim Butcher (4/5 stars)
This is a short Harry Dresden story in which Dresden is asked to help a half-Yeti boy deal with bullies. It wasn’t all that exciting but was decently written and I enjoyed it.
“Great-Grandmother in the Cellar”, Peter S. Beagle (4/5 stars)
When an evil wizard puts a young man’s sister into eternal sleep he takes is upon himself to seek aid from his dead grandmother. This was a well done story and I enjoyed the characters and the resolution to the story.
“Crow and Caper, Caper and Crow”, Margo Lanagan (3/5 stars)
This was an okay story about a grandmother witch named Pen who goes to her granddaughter’s birth only to discover there are secrets she doesn’t know both about his daughter-in-law and the new granddaughter. Not much happens in this story, it was okay but not great.