Sunday, May 13, 2018

Errant Spark by Antoinette Ronelle

I wanted to like Errant Spark. Really. And it’s not often that I will end up giving a three-star review, but this is one of them. The author seriously needed structural edits, as well as some copy edits (discrete instead of discreet, anyone?). The number of errors I encountered throughout this book was phenomenal. The head-hopping as it is nearly drove me dilly.

That being said, I quite enjoyed the world building, and if the author had been reined in by an editor, I think this could have been quite a lovely little story for a romantic fantasy as the tone of the writing is engaging. There is a lot going on here, but far too many issues on a structural level for me to heartily recommend this across my networks.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman has been on my TBR pile for a regrettably long time. Neil, as always, remains one of my favourite authors – or at least one of the authors I will forever look up to for the way that he effortlessly dips into history, legend and sometimes assorted fandoms to weave together tales with mythic qualities. He KNOWS stories on a deep, visceral level. So there is that.

As Neil so aptly puts it, this volume consists of “short fictions & disturbances”, and in and of itself is a valuable little trove to document some of the man’s writing that may otherwise have been scattered and hard to track down. So from the perspective of record keeping, I feel it’s important for any author to at some point do a bit of curating. What was also incredibly helpful was Neil’s foreword, where he gives a little background into each story – that’s gold and gives a bit of context.

The stories themselves are eclectic in nature, and for me the overall impact was a little hit and miss. But then, what works for one reader might not work for another. I will, however, mention some of the tales that stood out for me.

“Adventure Story” hit me with a gut punch – ostensibly a story within a story, of a man packing up his deceased father’s things, and learning more about the old man from his mother than he expected. Perhaps the sting in the tale is the denial of imagination and, as the title suggests, adventure.

I loved “A Calendar of Tales” – a strange story for each month. I had the pleasure of hearing Neil read out “October Tale” about a genie out of a lamp at the Amanda Palmer show I saw this year. And I love that story especially because I can still hear the exact way he read it. The stories themselves leave more mysteries than anything else, and I think that’s why I love them so much. They leave me wondering. And wandering.

Then “The Case of Death and Honey” dips into the Sherlock Holmes milieu, and blends the themes of immortality, bees and honey. I won’t say any more than that, except that this particular story resonated with me, especially in how it juxtaposes the two narrators.

“The Return of the Thin White Duke” reminded me an awful lot of classic Sandman-type stories. I’d started reading it online a while back but lost the link, so to dig into it now was lovely. It’s an origin story for David Bowie, and a fitting one indeed.

“The Sleeper and the Spindle” is also reproduced here in its entirety – and is suitably epic and gives quite a twist on the Sleeping Beauty fairytale.

Last in the collection, which I enjoyed immensely, was “Black Dog” – a novelette featuring Shadow Moon of American Gods, whose rambling through the English countryside uncovers darkness beneath the veneer of civilisation.

My main feeling is that there’s a little bit of everything in this collection, and some stories might speak to readers more than others. At any rate, I’m a die hard fan who’ll most likely come back to dip into individual tales in the future, so this one’s got a permanent spot in my library.