*"Lungewater" by Joan Aiken. I don't believe I've read anything by Joan Aiken before this story, but I shall be searching out her books now. A girl meets a stranger while traveling to visit her elderly great-aunt on Christmas Eve. The stranger tells her the sad story of a mean-spirited count and an enslaved orphan. I enjoyed this story within a story quite a lot. A very gothic feel. Atmospheric. It was by no means a happy tale, but nonetheless the end made me smile a wry little smile.
*"Morgan Roehmar's Boys" by Vivian Vande Velde. Annie's read many of Vivian Vande Velde's books, and in fact met her on a couple of occasions as she's a local author. But this is my first dip into her work. Completely different feel from the previous story. This felt more like the type of story you might tell around the campfire at night. Definitely a fun little story. It takes place on the grounds of a farm that stages haunted hayrides to make a little extra money each fall season. But the farm is located on property that once belonged to a serial killer...
*"Watch and Wake" by M.T. Anderson (retold from a story by Lucius Apuleius). And this story was so very completely different from the first two. This had an almost surreal feel to it. A boy traveling home by bus, stops in a small town to hopefully make a little money to get him further down the road. He's offered $100 to watch a dead body to make sure nothing happens to it during the night. "Nothing" being witches in the form of animals coming to eat the body's face. Hey, and there's a necromancer, too. This book is now three for three, as I also really enjoyed this one!
*"Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire" by Neil Gaiman. And yes, yet another completely new direction. Humor. This story is so delightfully clever. Don't get me wrong, there are still plenty of gothic atmosphere and dark creepy moments. But still, this story is so quirkily unique.
*"The Dead and the Moonstruck" by Caitlin R. Kiernan. And yes, yet another new direction. We've run smack into paranormal territory with this one. Paranormal--another one of those reading realms that my inner voice tells me I don't really enjoy. But my inner voice is pretty much an idiot. I enjoyed this story quite a lot, actually. It centers on Starling Jane during the week she approaches her final test as a changeling. Her fear, her doubts, her insecurities. And just what happens...
*"Have No Fear, Crumpot is Here!" by Barry Yourgrau. As I began reading this story, I thought I had finally hit my first dud. It has a tinge of that stereotypical juvenile male humor to it. But as the story progressed, I actually found myself enjoying it. Not my favorite story in the book, but I by no means feel it was a waste of my time either. It begins:
How a boy named Walter came to be all alone in a strange dark house out by a lake on a dark and stormy night, under a full moon, screaming in terror at a very creepy pale little kid also named Walter...perhaps this requires some explaining.
And explain, he does.
*"Stone Tower" by Janni Lee Simner. While I've only previously read a few of the authors in this collection, all of them were at least on my radar except for Janni Lee Simner. But she's on my radar now--I loved this story! It starts off quite mysteriously. Tara, a teenage girl, seems somehow to be a prisoner. She is mostly confined to her bedroom in the stone tower of her home. I say mostly, because a voice she cannot seem to disobey does tell her to go to school each day. However, when there, she seems incapable of connecting with anyone. It's evident that something horrible has happened from the way people are treating her, but Tara doesn't know what...
*"The Prank" by Gregory Maguire. *sigh* This story is an example of why I'm too afraid to actually read Wicked, a book that so many people whose opinions I respect really love. I just don't seem to have any luck with his short stories. It's one of those cases where I can appreciate the story, but not really like it. As shallow as it seems, I just couldn't get past the fact that I didn't much like Melanie, from whose point of view this story is told. I could care about her and feel sadness for her, but I just could not bring myself to like her. Melanie has been accused of committing a horrid hate crime, and because her mother is currently in custody, Melanie is sent (court-ordered) to stay with an elderly relative she's never met before. It's the story of their weekend spent together...and the secret in the attic.
*"Writing on the Wall" by Celia Rees. Enjoyed this one a lot. Another story with turret. A haunted house sort of story. Maybe a wee tad predictable, but delightful nonetheless.
*"Endings" by Garth Nix. Short little tale. So short, in fact, that I fear saying anything about it for fear of spoiling it. I did like, didn't love it. Though I think I might just read it again...
So, I've now reached the end of this collection. And overall, I'd say it was a mighty fine collection indeed. And a very nice addition to my RIP reading. If I had to choose a favorite, I think it might be the very first selection, "Lungewater" but it's not an easy choice to make because I thoroughly enjoyed many of these tales.
50x50--#45-Read 50 short story or essay collections.