Dancing Through the Fire

Tanith Lee. Fantastic (fantasticbooks.biz), $24.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-62755-645-3
Lee (A Different City) died in May 2015, and this collection, containing eight previously published short stories and four originals, is the last work she assembled. Lee's decadent, Gothic-inflected pieces range from delicate fantasias about the whims of a personified death ("Death Dances," "The Death of Death") to straightforward, suspenseful sword-and-sorcery featuring resourceful but outmatched thieves ("In the City of Dead Night"). Unfortunately, the older stories are usually better than the new. The collection's most emotional and most recent pieces are meditations on the power of art, and, with one exception, they tip over into the bathetic, as in the extremely purple "The Flame," which is more of a tract than a story. But it's difficult to read the stunning new piece "Burn Her," in which a dead painter's right arm refuses to either stop painting or succumb to fire, as anything other than Lee's graceful acknowledgement and defiance of her own mortality, a very high point in this uneven swan song. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/07/2015
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-1-62755-646-0
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