Short story is not my normal genre. But I’m trying to expand my readership, and I like fantasy, so I took the plunge and bought “Neverland’s Library.” The compilation was a neat idea, where 21 different fantasy authors were asked to write a short story that captured the pure fantasy that we know and experience as children. Ultimately, it does its job.
It was good; and I feel bad saying that because there were 4 stories in the collection that totally blew my socks off and deserve 5 stars all to themselves:
”A Tune from Long, Long Ago” by Don Webb
“On the Far Side of the Apocalypse” by Peter Rawlik
“Restoring the Magic” by Ian Creasey
“Love, Crystal and Stone” by Teresa Frohock
They were tight, had intense meaning, and gave a brilliant 1-2 punch at the end that I feel is really the quintessential point of the short story. I will definitely be looking for more works by these authors.
The rest were good stories, not the best stuff I’ve read; you could tell some of the pieces were written by authors not used to being penned into 20 pages or less, but out of the 21 stories, there was only one I couldn’t get through and a few that were sort of meh.
The most glaring thing I found through most of them was an inexplicable urge to edit the published page. There were so many areas that should have had a red pen taken to them. This could just be my own personal issue since I’m not really used to this genre, but with an already limited amount of pages, wouldn’t you want the story to be as tight as humanly possible?
It also may be unfair to be holding “Neverland’s Library” up to Neil Gaiman’s “Smoke and Mirrors,” which is the only other short story anthology I’ve read recently. Gaiman’s was written by one author, not twenty-one, and due to the nature of his style, he is a tight and bare-bones writer anyway.
“Neverland’s Library” lent itself to much more lyrical styles and what I felt to be a lot of extraneous information for a story that not only had to be told but also had to be world-built effectively.
Even with that, I would still recommend this book, especially if you’re looking for new authors to follow. These little bites are a great way to decide if you like an author’s style without committing to the enormous series most fantasy authors are known for.