I… don’t know what to say about this. It’s an anthology of short stories by Sarah Totton. While I don’t love them, they’re… good? I can’t tell. They’re kind of weird. I said this to faintingviolet, and her response was: “You were expecting not weird?” I was expecting weird, considering where I bought the book, but I suppose I was expecting a different kind of weird.
I think my favorite part of the whole book is the Introduction by Forrest Aguirre. His prose is lovely. He makes me want to like the rest of the book. And I’m sure other people love some of or all of the rest of the stories. I’m just not feeling them. I think that’s in part due to the fact that they make me feel a bit unsettled. I’m not sure what’s going on in some of them, and I think that’s the point. The Introduction helped to ground me, a bit. It helped me look for themes I’m used to, like color and the concept of childhood.
Some of the stories are humorous, like the first one, “A Fish Tale.” We are quickly ensconced in a world of the fantastical, where stories and clichés come true. The names and actions are a bit ridiculous, but the themes are a bit familiar. In the simplest terms, a girl is chasing after a boy who wants nothing to do with her. And as a bit of a spoiler, she doesn’t catch him.
We move on to “The Man with the Seahorse Head” which gently moves us away from the lightheartedness of the first story. We then start on our path of depression, insanity, and general uneasiness. Some of them could seem to take place in a world without magic and mysticism at all, like “Pelly Medley” and “Choke Point.” Others are possibly full of metaphors, like “Flatrock Sunners” and “Bluecoat Jack.” (What the metaphors are I will not say, in fear of sounding like a complete idiot.) “A Little Tea ad Personal Magnetism” is completely ridiculous (and perhaps the only magic is how George has survived for so long, and does he somehow have a lot of money?) “The Bone Fisher’s Apprentice” and “The Teasewater Five” are just sad. And “A Sip from the Cup of Enlightenment” was disturbing and confusing.
Perhaps the uneasiness stems from the fact that all of the stories have something to say about the human condition. And as we all know, humans are messed up.