Wednesday 1 August 2018

#bookreview: Mythical Doorways and Tales of Ever After | Anthologies from @FellowofFantasy

Mythical Doorways: A Fellowship of Fantasy Anthology (Fellowship of Fantasy, #3)Mythical Doorways: A Fellowship of Fantasy Anthology by H.L. Burke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another great anthology from the Fellowship of Fantasy! (I HAVE to get round to reading that first one, Fantastic Creatures: A Fellowship of Fantasy Anthology, which has been in my kindle FOREVER.) There are fewer stories in this one than Hall of Heroes: A Fellowship of Fantasy Anthology, but each story here is longer and somewhat more complex. So, in that way, each bite here is a juicier and more fulfilling read! (If that even makes sense.)

Everwild (J.M. Hackman) started off with a slightly generic feel. Orphan boy discovers his heritage upon coming of age and must choose his path now, now, now before he turns eighteen! Girl + magic vs offer of his wildest dreams! Still, it's a good look at the stark choices that face a young person when they age out of foster care.

Well of Fate (Savannah Jezowski) was brilliant. It's based on Norse Mythology, centring on Ratatosk, the storyteller squirrel that lives on the Yggdrasil. It's not the common mythology fare you get nowadays with Odin and Thor and Loki being so popular in pop culture. I especially liked the twist at the end, which I didn't quite see coming!

I enjoyed Jericho and the Magician's Daughter , probably because I seem to like almost everything I've read by (H.L. Burke) so far. It has a bit of a budding romance (maybe? maybe not?), but was mainly about Jericho standing up for his friend against her father and insisting that she should be given the opportunity to pursue her dreams.

Kathy Huth Jones' Dragon's Oath was about forbidden (and impossible) interspecies friendships, as well as breaking with a past that holds you down. Ethaniel is a little too melodramatic (but what teen boys aren't) so this was just okay for me, I guess.

The Hallway of Three Doors (D.G. Driver) has a very old-style fairy tale feel to it--you know, like the old enchanted castles, well, doors, and princes, and trying to decipher the riddle behind it--but it was also a little hard to follow. Still, I liked it.

Bokerah Brumley's Door Number Four was brilliant. It's slightly more sci-fi so the door isn't exactly mystical, but the creature behind it IS indeed mystical. It had a bit of a Ender's Game vibe to it, at least in concept and the way things played out.

Threshold (Laurie Lucking went back to the same choose-your-path theme as Everwild , where Heidi has to decide to stay in fairyland forever, or never go back again. I kinda preferred this one, though. Maybe because of the choices made and the reasons why.

Idiot's Graveyard seems to be a continuation of Arthur Daigle's story in Hall of Heroes: A Fellowship of Fantasy Anthology--more background is given about Sorceror Lord Jayden, and Dana Illwind is still hanging around! It's still engrossing as a standalone, so don't worry that you'll need to read the earlier ones! Though now ... maybe there's a first story in Fantastic Creatures. Hmmm...

There's always one story in an anthology that I can't seem to get into (sorry), and this time it turned out to be AJ Bakke's Cosmic Cravings . Maybe it was the disjointed feel to it (it jumped between people and places quite a bit) or its ludicrous premise (everything happened just because Bree NEEDS CHOCOLATE) but I pretty much skimmed through this one.

I had to look Dragon Ward (Jenelle Leanne Schmidt) up, which means that I didn't like it that much to remember it, or didn't get annoyed enough to remember it. So that's kinda good? Similar man vs dragon theme as Dragon's Oath , different play out, but almost similar end result.

In What Lies Ahead (Lauren Lynch), a former slave goes in search of the past, but finds instead a path to the future. Certain elements in it reminded me of David Gemmell (walking into/interacting with the past, trying to change the future, foretelling). It felt like a fitting end to the anthology:
"Any illusions of the past I'd clung to faded like stars dissolving in the light of dawn. It was easier than I might have imagined to let go of my childish notions--to reach for the endless possibilities awaiting me."


Tales of Ever AfterTales of Ever After by H.L. Burke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Fellowship of Fantasy is back with another anthology of short stories, this time exploring the classic fairy tale. There are a lot of fairy tale retellings in this one so I guess I wasn't as impressed. Don't get me wrong--I love fairy tale retellings! I figure it just turns out that some of the retellings here were too straight-forward, and didn't provide enough oomph to make them stand out. In that way, original stories still work better. That doesn't mean that there aren't some gems here though!

Stories I loved:
At the Corner of Elm & Main, H.L. Burke: lovely, bittersweet, and charming. Enchanted lampposts are obviously the way to go. ;)
The Girl Who Talked to Birds, Kristen S. Walker: I like schoolgirl-finding-powers stories.
Wake the Moon, Annie Louise Twitchell: this had a bit of a folklorish feel, which was wonderfully refreshing.
Third Princess, Emily Martha Sorensen: I loved this play on the classic youngest princess always wins. There's a bit of a Howl's Moving Castle vibe to it too.
A Week After Midnight, Alex McGilvery: exploring what happens after the fairy tale has been done before, but I liked the way this one went.
Being Seen, Gretchen E. K. Engel: I don't know why I liked this one. I mean, stuck up Lord vs humble commoner--nothing unusual about that. I guess it's just the way everything fit together with the invisibility curse and all.
How to Hide a Prince, E.J. Kitchens: this one was a little confusing at first but the reveal at the end made up for it.
The Loathly Princess of Edimor, L. Palmer: Another stuck up Lord vs humble commoner, but with a proud princess that needed to be taught a lesson. Sight Howl vibe again, which is probably why I preferred it over other stories with similar characters.

Stories I kinda liked:
Cinders, Kendra E. Ardnek: the double twist on this Cinderella retelling was amusing. The beginning was rather ho-hum until the twist though.
Steelhand, Ashley Capes: As you can tell, I kind of like "the outcast wins" stories.
The Greatest Adventure, J.M. Hackman: I would have liked this better if I hadn't foretold the end. haha.
Believing in Fairy Tales, Arthur Daigle: started off not quite liking this, but it kind of grows on you.

There are some other stories I didn't mention here and I can't recall offhand what they were about, so it goes to say those didn't make much of an impression on me. But 12 out of 16 (I think) on the love/like list is pretty good for an anthology!

Note: I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher. I was given the book with no expectation of a positive review and the review is my own.

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