This dense collection of original and reprinted fantasy short stories and novellas is steeped in hagiography and storytelling, right from the introduction. Howard (An Unkindness of Magicians) states that “Writing for me is an act of faith”; the mythical tales that follow prove that, for Howard, faith and story come with a sacrifice. Again and again, characters who want to tell their myths must lose themselves. In the opening work, “A Life in Fictions,” a woman’s boyfriend uses her as inspiration to write. However, when he’s writing, she is living the story, not her own life. The more he writes, the more of herself she loses. In the central novella, “Once, Future,” college students take on the identities of Arthurian legend, and in order to break the tragic cycle, even more than identity must be given up. As the collection continues on, the themes begin to shift. Women are no longer required to sacrifice themselves, but they must sacrifice others to save themselves. In the final story, “Breaking the Frame,” a photography model posing for illustrations of fairy tales begins to change the stories so that the characters have agency. This strong and satisfying set of stories will appeal to mythology and fantasy enthusiasts. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/24/2018 Release date: 09/25/2018 Genre: Fiction
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