cover image Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells

Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. Tor, $15.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-7653-3227-1

Datlow and Windling (After) collect 18 stories of elegant beauty and gothic murk in this anthology of “gaslamp fantasy,” an umbrella term for speculative works set in or inspired by the Victorian era. In the title story by Delia Sherman, a young researcher uncovers a shocking secret hidden in the diary entries of Queen Victoria’s spell book. A vindictive governess manipulates those around her with a magical scrapbook in Maureen McHugh’s “The Memory Book.” Gregory Maguire suggests that Scrooge bestowed magical gifts upon Tiny Tim in “A Few Twigs He Left Behind.” Veronica Schanoes’s “Phosphorus” relates the grim conditions that drove Victorian factory workers to strike, and the grim witchcraft that one worker, dying of phosphorus poisoning, uses to extend her life so she can see the strike to its end. Fans of steampunk and Austen-inspired fantasies of manners will be completely enraptured by these stories, which show us how Victorians saw themselves and offer an assortment of ways for modern readers to consider the bright lights and gloomy shadows of the past. (Mar.)