Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Under My Hat

ed. by Jonathan Strahan

Why You Should Read This:

  • Contains awesome stories by some of my all-time favourite authors: Garth Nix (author of the Sabriel series), Frances Hardinge (author of A Face Like Glass and other brilliant books), Neil Gaiman (author of Sandman and American Gods as well as Doctor Who episode "The Doctor's Wife"), and more!
  • So many differing view on witches/magic users. Very interesting.

And Why You Shouldn't:
  • There are few very good stories. Couple good ones, couple entertaining ones. A lot of the rest I was a bit underwhelmed with.

Thoughts: I got pretty much the experience I always get when I get a book of short stories based on it featuring a few authors I love. In other words, I loved the stories by the authors I love, and I didn't care too much for all the rest, with a few notable exceptions.

So here are some that I feel like talking about:

"Payment Due" by Frances Hardinge was one of my favourites, as Hardinge's stuff always is. Her stuff is always original and well written, and this one was no exception.

"A Handful of Ashes" by Garth Nix was also one of my favourites. I like Garth Nix slightly less often than I like Frances Hardinge, but I can generally count on him. This one was great fun, and as often happens, I wish he could write a whole book in that world with those characters.

My least favourite stories were probably "Little Gods" by Holly Black, "Barrio Girls" by Charles de Lint, and "The Witch in the Wood" by Delia Sherman. "Little Gods" was too... Young-Adult-y? I'm not sure how to describe it exactly. "Barrio Girls" was too unhappy for me in a way I didn't enjoy (because sometimes I do like tragic stories). "The Witch in the Wood" reminded me a bit too much of a romance novel in some way, which is really not my cup of tea.

This is just a tiny, tiny nitpick, but "The Carved Forest" by Tim Pratt has a small error. On page 256, it mentions that Carlos couldn't get Holy Water from a priest because he wouldn't believe his crazy story of a witch with a garden of living statues. But Holy Water is the easiest thing in the world to get, and you don't even need a story, you just say you want some. So yeah. I only mention it because people almost always get Catholic details wrong, and it kind of bugs me. Of course it's an understandable mistake, and I'm not blaming Tim Pratt in the least. It's just a tiny detail in a long line of inaccuracies in many, many books and movies, is all.

I'm not sure I entirely understood "Burning Castles" by M. Rickert. It seemed quite sad and tragic, but I don't exactly know what was going on. Which was kind of disappointing because I was interested.

"The Stone Witch" by Isobelle Carmody was one of the surprisingly enjoyable ones. I find that the short stories I love the most always must either a) be perfect little gems all on their own or b) make me want MORE. This was the second type, and I'm definitely going to look into Carmondy's other books now.

"B Is for Bigfoot" by Jim Butcher was lots of fun. I have never read his Dresden books, but this made me much more interested in starting. And good thing is, if I like them, there are a ton of them, so that'll keep me with books to read for ages. (Not that I have any trouble finding books to read... My TBR pile, as with most book lovers, I think, is too long to ever really properly catch up.)

To sum up: quite enjoyable, although not as much as I was hoping, considering how long I've been looking forward to reading this book.

Grade: 3 stars

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