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This is a great selection of short stories. The underlying theme of the tower is captivating, especially as I read some stories that prominently featured a tower and others that briefly mentioned a tower. I enjoyed the variety of stories, from ones that take place in the Stone Age to ones that take place in the future and in space. Some are darker than others, and I enjoyed some of the fantastical elements here too, such as one story including a vampire, and some including witches or sorceresses. The story “Ancient Spin” by Steven R. Southard is a clever retelling of the tower of Babel. The first story of the collection, “Beneath the Bell Bay Light” immediately gripped my attention with its dark ending. The story “Freak Justice” by Brad Hafford is one of the stories that briefly mentions a tower, yet the transformations that the characters go through while on a traveling circus are amazing and terrifying. “The fieldtrip” by Alex Shvartsman includes a clever “fieldtrip” to Earth from space, and it took me a while to realize what tower/relic the archaeology students were trying to identify. “The Fieldtrip” is one of the lighter stories and gave me several chuckles when I realized what the characters were analyzing. Overall, I enjoyed this collection and many of the stories here. This is also a great resource to read if you want to start writing short stories because of the variety presented. This collection also helps me to realize how writers can take an idea of a tower and manipulate it into an original story. Great ideas; great inspiration; and great entertainment!
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on October 20, 2015
This substantial anthology of fantasy, horror, and science fiction contains over twenty-five stories, all but three original to this volume. The book bears an epigraph from Robert Browning’s poem “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,” which inevitably calls to mind Stephen King’s multi-volume “Dark Tower” epic and, perhaps, THE LORD OF THE RINGS. The authors’ responses to the theme, however, yield amazingly varied interpretations of “that ominous tract which. . . Hides the Dark Tower.” Although, as advertised, every contribution features a tower, the structures include, among others, a lighthouse, water towers, fortresses, traditional wizards’ lairs, and bizarre architecture on alien worlds. With murder and magic, adventure and self-sacrifice, sympathetic characters and villains, the book offers themes and motifs to engage fans of any type of speculative fiction. Two vampire stories are included, one a traditional story that begins in Newgate Prison and extends over many centuries into the remote future, the other an unusual vampire variation set in ancient Ninevah. In another tale King Arthur appears, long after the fall of Camelot, a broken man unable to die. Editor Harmon contributes a new story in her “Charm City Darkness” urban fantasy series, and Crist has an SF piece set in a Mars colony in the distant future. This excellent anthology has something for everyone.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on March 29, 2016
[NOTE: I received a copy of this book through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.]
This collection of short stories revolve around the theme of “towers”, and more specifically towers of the dark kind: towers of sorcery, alien towers in strange world, sinister lighthouses, towers of the Underworld... There are very few “nice” dwellings here, and a lot of the stories do not carry much hope, or are tinged with a bittersweet side.
I found this a quick and pleasant read in general. While I admit not caring much for the first story (a poem), there was nothing really catastrophic in there. On the other hand, no story felt really above the others as far as I'm concerned. Mostly it's a matter of a good deal of stories feeling somewhat “unfinished”: too short for me to properly get to care about the characters (“Beneath the Bell Bay Light”, “Core Craving”), with endings that were often too open, as if something was missing (“Giving a Hand”, “Smoke and Sprites”), even though at first they did seem complete. That's something I've struggled with myself, and something I find regularly in other anthologies, and I won't fault this one specifically. So, all in all, it's a solid 3 stars, though not more.
The stories I liked best:
“Squire Magic”: Bittersweet indeed, but a nice lesson about magic, and how the most powerful spells aren't always able to best a cunning mind who knows what to do with “simple” spells.
“The Tower”: a quaint and quiet little town, a man staying close to its roots, and the evil looming abover everyone, in the shape of an old water tower. It had a bit of a Stephen King feeling.
“They Warp the Fabric of the Sky”: Beware what you're looking for... and do not disregard the power of a smile.
“Kiss of Death”: Somewhat comical and light, yet also a beautiful love story. (And it has a Lich and a Necromancer! Bonus points!)
“Annie the Escaper”: actually, not really a favourite; however, I liked the idea of a species realising in the end it couldn't live without the other, although not for the most obvious reason.
Special mention for “The Blind Queen's Daughter” because Arthurian & Lovecraftian mythos together.
A nice collection of stories revolving around the theme of towers. My favorites include fantasy tales (Larry C. Kay's Squire Magic, Ray Kolb's The Siege of Ravelin, Jeff Stehman's The Sorcerer Climbed her Tower), a nice one about a serial killer (Richard Chizmar's The Tower), some urban fantasy (Brad Hafford's Freak Justice, Kelly A. Harmon's Giving a Hand), and some dystopian futura (Kane Gordon's The People of the Town).
Eine schöne Sammlung sehr unterschiedlicher Geschichten für zwischendurch, bei der für fast jeden Geschmack etwas dabei sein dürfte. Von klassischer Fantasy bis zum Horror ist alles dabei, wobei die Horrorelemente überwiegen.
Mein Favorit ist G. Scott Huggins "The blind queen's daughter", eine interessante Verschmelzung des Arthusmythos mit Elementen us den Lovecraft-Erzählungen.
Nice collection of stories for all those moments when you want to read something short and enjoyable. Most stories tend a little towards the horror-side of the fantasy spektrum.
My personal favorite is G. Scott Huggins "The blind queen's daughter", a fascinating amalgamation of Arthurian and Lovecraftian mythology.