So far I’ve really been enjoying the Ancient Magus Bride in its original manga form; I’ve also liked the anime but haven’t seen the whole thing yet. The general gist is that a Japanese teen, Chise, who has no family who wants her, puts herself up for auction. She is purchased by Elias, a non-human mage who wants to train her/ learn about humans from her. Chise has some magical abilities herself, and she fits in well with the mage’s world. It’s a really sweet story, since both Chise and Elias aren’t emotionally very steady, but they learn and grow with each other. The general world is the Celtic-Briton mythological world that is largely unseen by us mundanes, known through old school faerie tales. Recently, there was a set of short stories published, each by a different author, that takes place in the same world, with many of the same characters. That’s The Ancient Magus’ Bride: The Golden Yarn. The nice thing is, you don’t need to know the main series to enjoy the stories.
I have to admit I was a little worried, since the stories were by other writers, and even though the book as a whole was supervised by the original author. I shouldn’t have been. Most of the stories are really entertaining. Many focus on side-characters or new ones who fit pretty seamlessly into the world of the main story. The first tale shows us about Hazel, the centaur courier who only makes a 1-2 panel appearance in the main series. Here he has family and personality. There’s a re-telling of the Joel and his rose garden episode from the main series that gives a mix between Joel’s and a succubus’ (here called a leannán sídhe) perspective that’s not really treated elsewhere. Felicia and Lewis and their story was all new, but it still fits since Felicia comes from a line of women with a particular magic. I should have seen the twist about Lewis coming, but I admit I didn’t. The story about Silky contradicts the anime version (or was that the manga?) about her origins, but I liked this one better. She’s the resident brownie spirit who takes care of Elias and Chise, and the story focuses on a previous owner of her home, and how they learned to cook together even though the human woman couldn’t see her. The Alex-Ashley story has more angst than the main series but I do like he story of how the two misfits find each other, and I would love to see Iron Rust make an appearance in the main story- she’s that interesting of a character.
I didn’t like the horror story very much, since it was a little hard to figure out exactly what was going on in a few places, and the cliff-hanger-ish ending didn’t help anything. But then again, horror really isn’t my genre.
I think that my two favorite stories were the first and last. Hazel’s story was really sweet, although when he finally decides what to get his two-legged aunt, apparently it’s supposed to be clear but unsaid, and I think I missed something because I don’t get it. The last story is the first half of a story; it ends with a “to be continued” that’s not quite a cliff hanger. It features a pair of changelings (a faery and human who were switched at birth) who work together at a magic-centered detective agency. They are presented a case by Lindel, one of my favorite side characters from the main story, concerning a stolen dragon egg. It turns out that there are literal gremlins running around the darker corners of the internet, and Jack (Jacqueline) is friendly with a few and they provide her with some intel along the way.
I don’t typically like short stories, but I often do have a soft spot for some of the side characters in this series, and this is a good way to give them some more depth without overdoing it in the main series. The other interesting thing is that a few of these stories do end inconclusively, and mostly, I’m ok with that. Usually it bugs me. There is a second collection coming out, and if it does not contain the conclusion of “Jack the Flash and the Rainbow Egg”, there will be a reckoning. I don’t know how or with whom, but there will be, even if it limited to simply selling both books off and pouting mightily.