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In this elegant volume, award-winning author Sarah Totton takes her readers on speculative journeys of the heart and mind that will both challenge and engage you. Within these tales, readers will learn the meaning of darkness and pain and fear. Yet they will also learn about love and happiness and laughter. Sarah Totton explores the full kaleidoscope of the human heart and peels it back, one layer at a time. She offers her readers a full palette of emotions and stories to sift through, never settling, never ...
In this elegant volume, award-winning author Sarah Totton takes her readers on speculative journeys of the heart and mind that will both challenge and engage you. Within these tales, readers will learn the meaning of darkness and pain and fear. Yet they will also learn about love and happiness and laughter. Sarah Totton explores the full kaleidoscope of the human heart and peels it back, one layer at a time. She offers her readers a full palette of emotions and stories to sift through, never settling, never holding back, and never flinching. Whether she is writing about the loss of innocence through dark revelations, the point to which a human mind can be stretched before succumbing to the magic of faerie, or something as preposterous as cloud-fishing in a world with pink yaks, the stories in Animythical Tales are always told with an eye toward revealing something important about the human condition. If you have ever yearned to fall into fabulous adventures in unforgettable worlds, Animythical Tales is the collection for you.
"A pleasantly absurd comedy of manners with an ending highly satisfactory to most of the parties concerned. Recommended." —Lois Tilton, Internet Review of Science Fiction
"…wildly inventive…" —Rich Horton, Fantasy: The Best of the Year, 2007
"'A Sip from the Cup of Enlightenment' was one of my favourites in the book. It's a perfect example of why I found Totton's work to be so intriguing and alluring; it's fantasy that challenges the reader in unfamiliar, surprising ways. The story is gorgeously written, and its imaginary culture effortlessly evoked. It's a murder mystery, a fantasy, a horror story, and terrifically ominous. It works, despite being eminently perplexing. If anything, I was left wishing she'd written a novella set in Congaree instead of a short story.… The writing, as with all of Totton's stories, is exquisite, infusing the mundane with magic.… Even when set in what is ostensibly the 'real' world, Totton's writing is gifted with this intangible but lovely quality of transformative fantasia that reminds one of a child's imagination and perspective (both dark and light), lensed through an adult's language.… This is a collection worth owning. I look forward to Sarah Totton's future work." —Tangent Online
"The Man with the Seahorse Head" (included in this book) was the Regional Winner (for Canada & the Caribbean) of the Commonwealth Short Story Competition (2008).
Posted December 25, 2010
In Forrest Aguirre's introduction to this collection of fantastical tales, he describes the reading of her stories as resembling "walking into a field of Technicolor gems", in which "the rainbow colors" account for "the distinctive, sharp visual lines that make her word-paintings so striking". He finds that her characterizations show a wide breadth of emotion, and are hard to categorize "because they are moving targets, capable of change and growth". Their variable moods make them more like the rest of us than are the average melodramatic characters that frequent the pages of certain other speculative fiction. A sense of either the celebration or loss of childhood innocence that permeates these pages speaks to one on an emotional level throughout the tales, being all the more effectively conveyed by the closeness to the animal world that the stories reflect. The androgynous nature of the tales should also appeal to a wide audience, no matter whether it is the role reversal in "A Fish Story", in which an undesired, but exceptionally resourceful, maiden attempts to snare a disinterested young man whom she ardently admires by catching an elusive fish, or in "The Man with the Seahorse Head" (a Regional Winner for Canada and the Caribbean in the prestigious Commonwealth Short Story Competition in 2007), who nurtures progeny that ultimately swim out to sea. In writing these stories, it can clearly be seen that Totton drew from her own experiences as a wildlife biologist and veterinarian. Most of the stories have previously been published in such magazines as Realms of Fantasy Magazine and Fantasy Magazine during the last five years, or in such collections as the Commonwealth Short Stories CD 2007-2008, and TEXT: UR-The New Book of Masks. Her tales of "The Teasewater Five", "The Bone Fisher's Apprentice" and "Bluecoat Jack" all received Honorable Mentions in the Year's Best Fantasy & Horror listings for the years 2006 through 2008, respectively, while "A Sip from the Cup of Enlightenment" is due to be published in Polyphony 7. "Flatrock Sunners" won a 3rd Annual Black Quill Award (Editor's Choice Best Dark Scribble category), awarded by Dark Scribe Magazine to honor outstanding works of dark genre literature from both mainstream and small press publishers. Two of the tales have not been published elsewhere so far, namely "Pelly Medley" and "A Little Tea and Personal Magnetism". Animythical Tales contain just enough of reality to place the scenes within the broader context of the real world, so that the readers are not estranged from what transpires in the course of the stories themselves. The stories are all organic entities, complete and entire within themselves. Totton's writing has depth and is multilayered, inviting the reader to explore the deeper meaning of the issues that she covers. Such issues include both the creativity and destructiveness of those who admire and create artistic forms, as well as the darker side of sexuality that can result in both physical and spiritual corruption and decay. If you are interested in venturing beyond the norm, you're likely to enjoy Animythical Tales very much indeed. But beware, it is not suitable reading matter for the faint-hearted.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.