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Sunday, 24 August 2014

Unexpected Journeys, edited by Juliet E McKenna, Reviewed.

If you enjoy fantasy, in any or all of its many various forms, and you aren’t a member of the British Fantasy Society, you’ll miss out on this pearl. The collection is given to members as a part of their membership and isn’t otherwise generally available.

The anthology includes different styles of fantasy amongst its eight stories, none of them what I suspect many people think of as ‘fantasy’ when they consider the genre. As Juliet says in her introduction, ‘Fiction began with fantasy fiction. Go back to Gilgamesh and you’ll find tales of heroes, magic and monsters.’ She goes on to list the works of other noted authors of the genre, including Homer, the Norse sagas, and the Arthurian Cycle. She isn’t as cynical as me, leaving out the best selling work of fantasy fiction ever: the Bible.

The stories included vary greatly and each is a small masterpiece of its particular style. We have modified folk tales, a version of a popular theme in fantasy – the thief in the city – but with important idiosyncrasies, stories that meld the horror genre with fantasy and others that defy classification; a quality I much admire in fiction.

All are well written and intriguing in their different ways. This is a book for those who love the worlds created by gifted writers. I enjoyed it and recommend it to all who can get hold of a copy.

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