The writers featured in Firebirds all share a connection to Firebird Books, an imprint that is dedicated to publishing the best fantasy and science fiction for teenage and adult readers.
This anthology marks a milestone for Firebird -- and is a must-read for all teenage and adult fans of speculative fiction.
About the Author
Meredith Ann Pierce is one of America's premiere fantasy writers. Along with her Darkangel books, the Firebringer Trilogy is among her best and most well-known work-but it has never been in paperback. This classic saga of Jan, the warrior unicorn prince and his herd's only hope, is compelling reading for horse lovers, fantasy fans, and anyone who relishes a crackling good adventure. Meredith Ann pierce lives in Micanopy, Florida.
Michael Cadnum is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books for adults and young adults, including the contemporary novels Rundown, Heat, and Edge (all Viking) and the historical novel In a Dark Wood (Orchard/Puffin). Michael Cadnum lives in Albany, California.
Nancy Springer has published forty novels for adults, young adults and children. In a career beginning shortly after she graduated from Gettysburg College in 1970, Springer wrote for ten years in the imaginary realms of mythological fantasy, then ventured on contemporary fantasy, magical realism, and women's fiction before turning her attention to children's literature. Her novels and stories for middle-grade and young adults range from contemporary realism, mystery/crime, and fantasy to her critically acclaimed novels based on the Arthurian mythos, I AM MORDRED: A TALE OF CAMELOT and I AM MORGAN LE FAY. Springer's children's books have won her two Edgar Allan Poe awards, a Carolyn W. Field award, various Children's Choice honors and numerous ALA Best Book listings. Her most recent series include the Tales of Rowan Hood, featuring Robin Hood’s daughter, and the Enola Holmes mysteries, starring the much younger sister of Sherlock Holmes.
Ms. Springer lives in East Berlin, Pennsylvania.
Patricia A. McKillip is a winner of the World Fantasy Award, and the author of many fantasy novels, including The Riddlemaster of Hed trilogy, Stepping from the Shadows, and The Cygnet and the Firebird. She lives in Oregon.
Over the past twenty-four years, Nina Kiriki Hoffman has sold novels, juvenile and media tie-in books, short story collections, and more than two hundred short stories. Her works have been finalists for the Nebula, World Fantasy, Mythopoeic, Sturgeon, and Endeavour awards. Her first novel, The Thread That Binds the Bones, won a Stoker Award. Nina's YA novel Spirits that Walk in Shadow and her science fiction novel Catalyst were published in 2006. Her fantasy novel Fall of Light will be published by Ace Books in May.
Read an Excerpt
One dusty, slow morning in the summer of 1922, a passenger was left crying on the platform when the milk train pulled out of Denilburg after its five minute stop. No one noticed at first, what with the whistle from the train and the billowing steam and smoke and the labouring of the steel wheels upon the rails. The milk carter was busy with the cans, the station master with the mail. No one else was about, not when the full dawn was still half a cup of coffee away.
When the train had rounded the corner, taking its noise with it, the crying could be clearly heard. Milk carter and station master both looked up from their work and saw the source of the noise.
A baby, tightly swaddled in a pink blanket, was precariously balanced on a large steamer trunk on the very edge of the platform. With every cry and wriggle, the baby was moving closer to the side of the trunk. If she fell, she'd fall not only from the trunk, but from the platform, down to the rails four feet below.
The carter jumped over his cans, knocking two over, his heels splashing in the spilt milk. The stationmaster dropped his sack, letters and packets cascading out to meet the milk.
They each got a hand under the baby at the very second it rolled off the trunk. Both men went over the edge of the platform, and they trod on each other's feet as they landed, hard and painful -- but upright. The baby was perfectly balanced between them.
That's how Alice May Susan Hopkins came to Denilburg, and that's how she got two unrelated uncles with the very same first name, her Uncle Bill Carey the station master and her Uncle Bill Hoogener, the milk carter.
The first thing the two Bills noticed when they caught the baby was a note pinned to the pink blanket. It was on fine ivory paper, the words in blue-black ink that caught the sun and glinted when you held it just so. It said: "Alice May Susan, born on the Summer Solstice, 1921. Look after her and she'll look after you."
It didn't take long for the news of Alice May Susan's arrival to get around the town, and it wasn't more than fifteen minutes later that fifty per cent of the town's grown women were all down at the station, the thirty-eight of them clustering around that poor baby enough to suffocate her. Fortunately it was only a few minutes more till Eulalie Falkirk took charge, as she always did, and established a roster for hugging and kissing and gawking and fussing and worrying and gossiping over the child.
Over the next few months that roster changed to include actually looking after little Alice May Susan. She was handed from one married woman to the next, changing her surname from month to month as she went from family to family. She was a dear little girl, everyone said, and Eulalie Falkirk was hard put to decide who should adopt the child.
Her final decision came down to one simple thing. While all the womenfolk had been busy with the baby, most of the menfolk had been taking their turn trying to open up that steamer trunk.
The trunk looked easy enough. It was about six feet long, three feet wide and two foot high. It had two leather straps around it and an old brass lock, the kind with a keyhole big enough to put your whole finger in. Only no one did after Torrance Yib put his in and it came back with the tip missing, cut off clean as you please right at the joint.
The straps wouldn't come undone either, and whatever they were, it wasn't any leather anyone in Denilburg had ever seen. It wouldn't cut and it wouldn't tear and those straps drove everyone who tried them mad with frustration.
There was some talk of devilment and foreign magic, till Bill Carey -- who knew more about luggage than the rest of the town put together -- pointed out the brass plate on the underside that read 'Made in the U.S.A. Imp. Pat. Pend. Burglar-proof trunk'. Then everyone was proud and said it was scientific progress and what a pity it was the name of the company had got scratched off, for they'd get some good business in Denilburg if only they knew where to send their orders.
The only man in the whole town who hadn't tried to open the trunk was Jake Hopkins the druggist, so when Stella Hopkins said they'd like to take baby Alice May Susan on, Eulalie Falkirk knew it wasn't because they wanted whatever was in the trunk.
So Alice May Susan joined the Hopkins household and grew up with Jake and Stella's born daughters Janice, Jessie and Jane, who at the time were ten, eight and four. The steamer trunk was put in the attic and Alice May Susan, to all intents and purposes, became another Hopkins girl. No one out of the ordinary, just a typical Denilburg girl, the events of her life pretty much interchangeable with the sisters who had gone before her.
Until the year she turned sixteen, in nineteen thirty-seven.
Table of Contents
|The Baby in the Night Deposit Box||42|
|The Fall of Ys||138|
|The Black Fox||157|
|The Lady of the Ice Garden||199|
|Chasing the Wind||264|
|The Flying Woman||394|
|About the Editor||421|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In this wonderful anthology, the editors pull together some of the best fantasy authors of the present to contribute a wide range of stories. Adventures that range from flying into Africa to fighting the Beast of Etmoor, this is a great introduction to prolific and gifted writers of fantasy for adults and young adults. With authors such as Megan Whalen Turner, Garth Nix and Diana Wynne Jones, it provides a gateway into the longer works of these authors and a chance for readers to see just how diverse the idea of fantasy can be.
I've really enjoyed this book for quite a while now, and I would defiantly recommend it. Even though I've read the whole thing at least twice, I still go back and read parts over again.
A lovely collection for young adults (and adults too), the first book in the Firebirds anthology series offers a good mix of fantasy stories. I enjoyed the book in general, but the standouts for me were "Cotillion" by Delia Sherman, "The Baby in the Night Deposit Box" by Megan Whalen Turner, "Mariposa" by Nancy Springer, "The Black Fox" by Emma Bull and Charles Vess (a graphic adaptation of the traditional ballad), "Little Dot" by Diana Wynne Jones (I'm not particularly a fan of cat tales, but I really loved this one!), and "Flotsam" by Nina Kiriki Hoffman. I especially loved the fey elements in "Flotsam" and "Cotillion."
Authors who have been published under the Firebird imprint are YA fantasy authors I either grew up reading or wish I'd grown up reading.There's no theme to this collection, but a few trends became apparent as I read. One was of strong, female characters who don't need to get the guy at the end. This is a refreshing take on feminist fantasy, which often features strong female characters who still end up marrying their one true love at the end of a book or series. The first story in the anthology, Delia Sherman's "Cotillion," is a modern fairy tale, where at the end the guy says, "You saved me. I want to marry you," and the girl's response is, "I hardly know you." "Don't you love me?" he asks, and she answers, "I might. I just met you. I don't know." I was pleased and impressed. Similarly, the end of Sherwood Smith's tale, "Beauty," has her protagonist--who has learned more about being fair and just, and inner beauty, than about love--saying, "But I am not languishing at a window, or watching the northern road. Because I'll know he'll be back."Another tale along those lines is "The Lady of the Ice Garden," a gorgeous retelling of "The Snow Queen." I loved the resetting of the story in the Heian Period of Japan; it was fitting in tone and imagery. And I appreciated Kara Dalkey's attempt to rejig the ending: instead of rescuing her childhood friend, the girl learns that the boy who hurt her is not worthy of her. I like where she's going with it, but it feels forced and abrupt in execution. A better feminist retelling of a classic story is Meredith Ann Pierce's "The Fall of Ys." (Michael Cadnum's "Medusa" is also a feminist retelling, but not nearly so well-done as Pierce's.)Nancy Springer's "Mariposa" is a fun little tale about a young woman who has lost her soul--a quite common affliction, apparently. When she regains it, she realizes how unfulfilling her high-powered career and life were, and ditches her engagement ring (marking a relationship to another high-powered, soulless individual) with a "Lord in heaven! What was I thinking?" There are plenty of other stories in the anthology that are similarly fun and enjoyable, without having much depth: some I ate up like candy, while others didn't really impress me. There are simply too many stories, and I cannot touch upon them all!Of course, they didn't all feature strong girls and women. Lloyd Alexander's "Max Mondrosch" was a surreal story of an everyman who can't find a job, which reminded me of the type of story I would try to write (and so I liked it quite a bit). "Little Dot," by Diana Wynn Jones, although containing some magical elements, was largely about a group of cats doing what cats do best: snubbing the woman who has taken their human's attention away from where it should be (which is doting on them). This is one of my favorites, as it perfectly depicts cats and their neuroticisms within the context of a fun good vs. evil story.Perhaps my favorite of the collection was Megan Whalen Turner's "The Baby in the Night Deposit Box." It was simply a well-crafted little tale of a girl named Penny who grows up in the bank in which she was deposited as a baby, and there was much to laugh at throughout. The whole story was just charming, particularly the ending.Aside from the stories, I really enjoyed the Author's Notes for each tale, which was a really neat addition. I think I most appreciated this for Garth Nix's "Hope Chest." I liked the story; it was another fun little story about an abandoned baby girl who grows into her destiny, but with Nix's familiar dark twist and tone. I just wasn't sure that I got it, or whether there was something I was supposed to 'get' from it. But Nix's author's note made it clear that he still had the same questions!
Patricia McKillip's "Byndley", Delia Sherman's "Cotillion" and Sherwood Smith's "Beauty" were ultimately my favourites of this collection, although Diana Wynne Jones' "Little Dot" was fantastic, and "The Baby in the Night Deposit Box" by Megan Whalen Turner was really good. "Byndley" was almost everything I love about McKillip's writing; it was not just the story itself but her use of language I admired. I enjoyed "Cotillion" partly because of what it was a retelling of, and I kept coming back to reread "Beauty" (then read the novel Crown Duel, which is set a generation beforehand, and had to come back to reread "Beauty" again.)Some of the other stories I did enjoy, or find interesting, or even just consider a good story, but none were particularly memorable. That said, I definitely enjoyed the collection, and it has given me some more authors to look out for.
This is one of the best collections of fantasy short stories I have found in a very long time. With great authors like Lloyd Alexander, Garth Nix and Patricia A. McKillip it is a treasure trove of original fiction. I thought "The Lady of the Ice Garden" by Kara Dalkey reminded me alot of the chilling greatness I feel when I read books by Angela Carter.
I liked some stories in this collection, others I didn't.The one that I loved is "Mariposa" by Nancy Springer. I love the concept and it was written in just the right style. I also liked "Remember Me" by Nancy Farmer and "Flotsam" by Nina Kiriki Hoffman.It's difficult to review short story collections such as this, but I would recommend it because I think that everyone can find at least one story to like in it. It has such a varied selection that it can appeal to many.
This is a very, very nice book. It gives you a taste of each of the authors that wrote for it, and in a few cases, adds on to one of the authors already-published stories. It is young adult, ages 13 and up.
As a lover of fantasy, I was thrilled to find this book. All of the stories were entertaining and fantastic. I especially enjoyed the one by Sherwood Smith which was a follow-up of sorts to her wonderful book Crown Duel.
It doesn¿t get too much better than this. Though that may sound cliché, it¿s true. I enjoyed every one of these diverse stories, my only complaint being that there weren¿t nearly enough. Some authors stuck to their usual territory, while others (notably Lloyd Alexander) moved in different directions, but regardless the result was highly enjoyable. Three cheers for Firebirds!
I can't wait. Finally something new by Garth Nix. I can't wait to read his and all the other stories.