TITLE: THE ALCHEMY PRESS BOOK OF URBAN MYTHIC
PUBLISHER: THE ALCHEMY PRESS (http://alchemypress.wordpress.com)
A free copy of this anthology was provided by Peter Coleborn, the publisher and editor-in-chief. He asked me to review three upcoming collections. The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic is the second. I uploaded the PDF he sent me to my kobo.
BLURB FROM THE COVER
There is magic out there on the street and the Mythic are alive and well and creating chaos in a city near you.
Fourteen fabulous authors bring you tales of wonder and horror, with ancient curses and modern charms, strange things in the Underground, murder and redemption, corporate cults and stalwart guardians, lost travellers and wandering gods, fortune tellers and urban wizards, dragons, fae and unspeakable beasts.
With stories from: James Brogden, Joyce Chng, Zen Cho, Graham Edwards, Jaine Fenn, Christopher Golden, Kate Griffin, Alison Littlewood, Anne Nicholls, Jonathan Oliver, Mike Resnick, Gaie Sebold, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and Ian Whates…
I exited the tube station and headed right, nearly walking into the woman in front of me as she stopped without warning to do up her coat. A young man in a hoodie, whom I hadn’t even realised was with her until that moment, shuffled half a step closer and glared at me, as if suspecting I was intent on mugging his girlfriend or something. Aggression seems to be the default reaction of so many people these days.
(DEFAULT REACTIONS BY IAN WHATES)
I found The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic much more enjoyable overall than the previous collection, Astrologica: Stories of the Zodiac. The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic was much more up my street and a much stronger collection.
I enjoyed pretty much all of the stories in The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic. My favourites include Default Reactions by Ian Whates, The Smith of Hockley by James Brogden, The Wizard of 34th Street by Mike Resnick and An Inspector Calls by Kate Griffin. These were all well-written, original and thoroughly enjoyable stories.
There are two stand-out stories in this collection, White Horse by Jonathon Oliver and Fish Bowl by Zen Cho, similar to Dark Matters by Megan Kerr in Astrologica: Stories of the Zodiac. I loved the way White Horse was written. Every word pulled me into Oliver’s story. I loved the myth Oliver creates in this story. The scenes where the sculpted horses come to life were very powerful. I also thought the ending was great. Oliver pulls off a happy ending without being twee. Great little story. I thought Cho offered something very unique with Fish Bowl. I really enjoyed the sinister undertone that ran all the way through this tale. I found Fish Bowl engaging but unsettling and creepy. The ending blew me away.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a collection of stories that doesn’t have a few stinkers. The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic only has one story I thought was a dud. I really didn’t enjoy Dragon-Form Witch by Joyce Chng. I found this story very clumsy and some of the writing and descriptions were poorly executed and awkward. I knew what Chng wanted to say but found she just didn’t put it across very well.
Like Astrologica: Stories of the Zodiac there were a few stories in The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic that weren’t good or bad but fell somewhere in the middle. These include Under Cover of Night by Christopher Golden and The Seeds of a Pomegranate by Anne Nicholls. I don’t have anything particularly negative to say about the stories but don’t have any praise to heap on them either. They were just okay.
I thought the link between the stories in The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic worked much better than Astrologica: Stories of the Zodiac. The stories were all written in the same genre. They were all very different but the same thread ran through the heart of all of them. I thought this worked really well.
The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic is a very strong collection of stories. I was familiar with several of the writers. Mike Resnick features regularly in one of my favourite magazines, Black Static as does Alison Littlewood. I know Christopher Golden through his Buffy the Vampire Slayer work years ago. I liked the journeys I was taken on in most of these stories.
The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes 2