This edition: Paperback
Editor: Adele Wearing
Publisher: Fox Spirit Books
Published: November 2013
Where I got it: Review copy from the publisher
My rating: 4/5
‘Forget everything you think you know about the big bad wolf’
It’s not that simple any more. Here are werewolves, skin walkers, demons and unknown dangers. Nothing can be relied upon, not species, not shape, not gender.
In the second Fox Pocket collection of short and flash fiction we explore what happens when nothing is as it seems.
You’ll need more than a red hood this time.
As a reader, I confess I don’t read nearly as much short fiction as I read novels, or even novellas. There’s no specific aversion to it involved; I just seem to gravitate more toward novels. Call me guilty of applying to the ‘more is more’ school of thought.
Well. It seems I was very wrong.
Now, I am certainly not about to give up on any of my novel-reading (I love you, novels, you’re looking fabulous this morning), but I strongly suspect the days when I overlooked short fiction in favour of it are, if not gone, then at least creeping toward the door, hanging their head in shame.
I didn’t fall madly in love with every story in this collection, but I did enjoy enough of them well enough that I think I just found myself a good few new authors to look further into, thanks to their Shapeshifter stories. For example…
“Carlos”, by K. A. Laity
Not all shapeshifters have the sharp teeth, Grandma. Sometimes they’re pretty harmless. So long as you’re not grass.
I have never, not once, read a shapeshifter story involving this particular animal before. It made me snort tea in laughter – then it made me sad. I don’t want to spoil it by giving anything more away, so I’ll simply say that if you’ve read it, you’ll probably know. If you haven’t, you should.
“Eigi Einhammr”, by Rahne Sinclair
Sometimes the power we possess matters much less than what we do with it…
This story was one of the ones I really liked, as much for its evocative Old World style as for its content. It’s bleak and bloody, and goes to show that sometimes us humans can be as nasty as any creature out in the shadows. Gave me chills, it did. Nicely done!
“A Cloud Like A Bunny”, by K. C. Shaw
This one was, if you’ll pardon the pun on the title, lighter and fluffier than the rest – but no less enjoyable. Sometimes good fluff is what you need, and this manages to include airships and a very unique take on dragons in all the fun.
A dragon, people. Need I say more? Look out for this one!
“Mask”, by Jonathan Ward
This was was creepy. Notably, there are no actual shapeshifting monsters involved, at least not as we’d think of them. No fur, no fangs, just… *Shudders* Creepiness. It’s all human this time, and I can’t say much more without spoiling it, but trust me. This is a story, and indeed perhaps also an author, of much note.
“Javier Reborn”, by Alec McQuay
I was a little more familiar with Alec McQuay, by name if nothing else, when I picked this up – but I was still completely new to his writing. After reading Javier Reborn I am very, very intrigued. As with Mask, one takes a completely different route from the rest of these stories, in that it apparently has a futuristic/apocalyptic setting. Basically, machines are stomping on everything. Including us people. The story’s main character is somewhere between the two, and incredibly conflicted about it… This was definitely a standout, for me.
So! Overall, I really enjoyed this collection of stories, and I will absolutely be keeping an eye out for the others (the Fox Pocket books are a planned series). To find out more about them, including where to buy them, check out the publisher’s website.