From Publishers Weekly
Frost (Fitcher's Brides
) demonstrates his mastery of the short story form in what will surely rank as one of the best fantasy collections of the year. These 14 well-crafted tales, each illustrated by Jason Van Hollander, take a sympathetic, often witty but always unsparing look at humanity. "Madonna of the Maquiladora" highlights the injustice of godless big business using religion to control the masses. Sorrow, anger and surrealistic allegory merge in "Collecting Dust," in which a child attempts to keep his dysfunctional family from its doom. Turning genre on its head with brio, "A Day in the Life of Justin Argento Morrel" wickedly subverts the space mission tale. "The Road to Recovery," a previously unpublished novella, amusingly mixes a Hope-Crosby road movie with space opera. In the title story, Frost turns Horace Walpole's Prince Manfred into a Southern racist upon whose Castle of Otranto–like plantation rain jazz instruments of destruction. "In the Sunken Museum" nightmarishly explains Poe's last days, while "From Hell Again" finds horror in Jack the Ripper's pocket watch. Karen Joy Fowler's foreword and John Kessel's afterword round out this excellent collection.
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In the collection-opening "The Girlfriends of Dorian Gray," the hero is a gourmand who, like Dorian Gray, doesn't want to deal with consequences. Frost is all over the map after that, with the bizarre "Touring Jesusworld," about a theme park based on the historical Jesus; a speculative piece on Poe's last days, "In the Sunken Museum"; a genuinely bizarre take on space opera cliches, "A Day in the Life of Justin Argento Morrel"; and a number of hard-hitting social commentaries set in the freedom afforded by sf settings. "Collecting Dust" takes a long, surreal look at the dysfunctionality of a suburban family; "The Bus" carries a homeless man to a strange, horrible fate; and "Attack of the Jazz Giants" watches as a plantation owner and head of the local Klan is destroyed by enormous musical instruments appearing out of nowhere and the strains of jazz on the radio. Frost's stories are funny and tragic, thoughtful observations on human phenomena; together they make a collection very well worth reading. Regina SchroederCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved