Ahoy there me mateys! I received this short story collection eARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .
the emerald circus (Jane Yolen)
Title: the emerald circus
Author: Jane Yolen
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
Publication Date: Available Now!!! (paperback/e-book)
While I have read many of Jane Yolen’s works, most have been her novels. It has only been recently that I have been reading her short stories. And I have been missing out. I was saving this collection for a day when I needed a pick me up. So when I was stuck in rain and fog and feeling under the weather, I picked this up to be transported to a more magical time and place.
This collection has 16 varied tales. Like any collection, I liked some better than others. But all show Yolen’s skill and love of storytelling. In addition this book also had something I wasn’t expecting. The end of the book has author reflections on how the stories came to be along with some of her poetry. I don’t really know much about the author’s life but she sounds like one awesome lady and this look into her writing process was lovely.
I don’t want to spoil the magic of the stories and can’t really do them justice with me own paltry words but I will try to give ye an idea of the bare bones of the stories and me thoughts on me favourites:
“Andersen’s Witch” – a Snow Queen retelling with a wonderful twist; poignant and lovely start to the book
“Lost Girls” – a Peter Pan novelette where girls take over; this be me favourite of the collection by far and won the 1998 Nebula. I want to rave about how clever it is but can’t cause spoilers!
“Tough Alice” – the first Alice in Wonderland retelling wherein Alice has to fight her own battle and is entertainment for the Wonderland gang; there are three Wonderland stories in this collection. This was me favourite but it was wonderful to read and compare the differences between the three.
“Blown Away” – a tale of what really happened after Dorothy was sucked up by a tornado; this piece is where the collection title comes from. It is told from an awesome perspective that I wasn’t expecting. I also will never look at Toto the same way.
“A Knot of Toads” – a women goes back to her hometown for her father’s funeral and discovers the real reason behind her father’s death and also some truths about his life; witches and toads and Scotland. I loved it.
“The Quiet Monk” – a story about what actually happened to Lancelot; I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of Arthurian tales but I loved the feel of this one and the fabulous ending.
“The Bird” – a story about Edgar Allan Poe and his wife Virginia. Oh and a raven of course; bittersweet and wonderful.
“Belle Bloody Merciless Dame” – this is about a treacherous elf on midsummer’s day; this was the weak link for me even though it was well written. I just didn’t love it.
“Jewel in the Toad Queen’s Crown” – fun piece about the relationship between Queen Victoria and Prime Minister Disraeli with magic of course!
“A Gift of Magicians” – a Beauty and the Beast story; my other favourite piece of the collection. The ending!
“Rabbit Hole” – what happens when Alice goes back down the rabbit hole at 80; such a cool concept.
“Our Lady of the Greenwood” – a Robin Hood origin story; because surely he had to come from somewhere; I particularly loved how he got his name.
“The Confession of Brother Blaise” – a Merlin origin story; this was me other least liked story. Though I did like the idea of the death bed confession. It was certainly different.
“Wonder Land” – the last Wonderland retelling, this time an Alice/little red riding hood mashup; this was me least favourite of the three. Allison is going through the woods to a friends house and meets scary creatures along the way.
“Evian Steel” – this was a tale about the forging of the sword for King Arthur; I loved that the women of the island forged the steel. This story was compelling and fascinating. Ye get to see where Guinevere comes from.
“Sister Emily’s Lightship” – This last story talk about Emily Dickinson meeting a Martian; Another Nebula winner for Best Short Story in 1997, what I most loved about it was Emily’s secret nocturnal life and her relationship with her dog.
I had to admit that I was immensely cheered up by reading this collection and will be thinking about me favourites for quite some time. If ye be a Jane Yolen fan, this should tickle yer fancy. If ye aren’t familiar with her work then this might be a good place to start. Arrrr!
So lastly . . .
Thank you Tachyon Publications!
Goodreads’ website has this to say about the book:
It’s time to go back to—and beyond—the treasured tales you thought you knew: The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and many more. Ringmaster and internationally bestselling author Jane Yolen (Briar Rose, Sister Emily’s Lightship) spins modern fantasy classics for delighted readers. A girl blown away from Kansas returns as a sophisticate with unusual gymnastic abilities. A talented apprentice, forging her first sword, is suddenly left to the mercies of Merlin. Alice’s infamous nemesis has jaws and claws, but also lacks the essential: a sense of humor.
Witty and bold, and unexpected, these tales go well beyond the rabbit hole and back again.
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