This impressive collection showcases an unusual diversity of styles, settings and tone. November, editor of Penguin's Firebird imprint, has chosen wisely: each of these 16 tales has literary merit strong enough to transcend its respective micro-genre (heroic fantasy, fairy tale, magic realism, "feline fantasy," etc.). Highlights are many: Lloyd Alexander eschews his usual epic fantasy setting in "Max Mondrosch," a darkly intriguing quasi-Edwardian nightmare about a man whose job hunt is literally the end of him; Diana Wynne Jones and Garth Nix offer robust tales likely to satisfy their respective legions of fans (Jones in familiar territory, Nix less so); Nancy Farmer, in "Remember Me," relays a bittersweet tale of a girl born into the wrong body and into the wrong family, and her journey back to where she belongs; and the highlight, Megan Whalen Turner's "The Baby in the Night Deposit Box" shares much of the sly morality-play structure of the best Twilight Zone episodes. Uniformly mature and thoughtful, these stories are likely to appeal not only to imaginative children but adults as well. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
A splendid gathering of award-winning fantasists. Feminist allegories and fairytale retellings are heavily represented, with some gems among the standard fare. Delia Sherman's "Cotillion" stands out for its fully realized heroine's twist ending, and Sherwood Smith's "Beauty" enlivens a would-be dull moral with likable characters. Tragedy and comedy are also here in force; Garth Nix's and Megan Whalen Turner's offerings both abandon not-quite-human infants in human towns, with drastically different results. Emma Bull and illustrator Charles Vess collaborate with a ballad, reworked as graphic short. Diana Wynne Jones brings fresh perspective to a deceptively simple tale of a country wizard and his cats. Elizabeth Wein's realistic "Chasing the Wind" and Nancy Farmer's changeling tale "Remember Me" provide compelling glimpses into adolescent self-realization. Not as extraordinary as the all-star contributor list could indicate, as the experimentation the form invites is largely absent here. Still, this is a magical collection. Lloyd Alexander's chilling foray into darkness by itself would justify the price of admission. (Fiction. 12+)