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Firebirds: An Anthology of Original Fantasy and Science Fiction Hardcover – September 29, 2003
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up-Teens will find much to savor and celebrate in this dazzling collection of 16 short stories by some of the best fantasy writers around. A biographical sketch and note from each one follows every selection. The collection starts off with Delia Sherman's "Cotillion," a luscious and romantic version of "Tam Lin" set in Manhattan, 1969. Diana Wynne Jones's "Little Dot" will charm anyone who has ever loved a cat. Kara Dalkey elegantly retells Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen" in "The Lady of the Ice Garden," and fans of Sherwood Smith's Crown Duel (Harcourt, 1997) will find great pleasure in "Beauty," his charming tale of one of Meliara and Shevraeth's children. Nancy Springer slyly twits the movers and shakers of the world in "Mariposa," a comic tale about a woman looking for her soul. An adaptation of the folksong "The Black Fox" by Emma Bull is complemented by Charles Vess's fine graphic interpretation. "The Baby in the Night Deposit Box" by Megan Whalen Turner is a sweetly daffy look at how evil can be beaten with rules and regulations. In Lloyd Alexander's devastating "Max Mondrosch," a man tries to do everything in his power to get by and still fails utterly. The most disturbing story in the collection, however, is Garth Nix's "Hope Chest," in which innocent Alice May is saddled with the task of saving her family and her town from the creeping shadow of evil. A first-class collection.
Patricia A. Dollisch, DeKalb County Public Library, Decatur, GA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 7-12. The only theme in this gorgeous tapestry of a collection is that all the authors are part of the Firebird imprint. The 16 stories are richly romantic in the broadest sense, and they effortlessly transport readers. Delia Sherman's opening "Cotillion" evokes the spell of lute music and New York City in 1969; Garth Nix's creepy "Hope Chest" is a Western stand-alone with a very unusual sheriff; Michael Cadnum and Meredith Ann Pierce turn old stories inside out. There's a cat tale (Diana Wynne Jones), and an odd changeling tale (Nancy Farmer), and a graphic novel by Emma Bull and Charles Vess. Nancy Springer takes a bemused and ironic look at what might happen when a girl wants her soul back. So many beguiling tales in one package make this a real find. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
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I picked up this anthology because it has a Nina Kiriki Hoffman story in it, and she's one of the few authors for whom I am still something of a raving fan. I read that one first. :)
"Flotsam" by Nina Kirki Hoffman is a story about a young boy from another land who winds up in ours and the people that help him out. It's a formula that's been done before, but you know, so was "Fear Street" and Nina Kirki Hoffman managed to write three stories in that trope that were new. She managed to do the same here. What's particularly nice here is that, while there is magic, it's not particularly magical. Though astonishing to the people that have not previously seen it, it's nothing special to the people doing the magic.
"Cotillion" by Delia Sherman is a remarkably (albeit lantern-hung) variant of Tam Lin. There's nothing very special here, which was surprising, as I generally enjoy her work. Then I got to the end, and it ended correctly, even though it broke the pattern. I appreciate that at lot.
"The Baby in the Night Deposit Box" by Megan Whalen Turner was wonderful. I shant bore you with a plot-based retelling, so let me just say that it's a story about a small town and their collective love for a child. I mean, sure there's a fairy war with goblins, enslavement and death as well as buracracy on many levels, but that stuff's not important. Really, it's all about love and bunnies... as well it should be.
"Beauty" by Sherwood Smith felt strange. It was like reading a story that was only half-told. As I read it, I thought that it was a vehicle for a bit of philosophy on pretty people and rightness of action. Then, when I got to the end and read the Author's Note, I saw that it was a sequel of sorts to Crown Duel. It sorta stands on it's own, but I suspect that I would have liked it better had I read the other book first.
"Mariposa" by Nancy Springer is a story that needed to be written. It's very good and addresses a common social problem in a very matter-of-fact and unusual way. This is one of those that is definitely aimed at the 12-18 age range, but also serves as a good reminder for those of us who are a wee bit older.
"Max Mondrosch" by Lloyd Alexander is horrifying and nightmarish and should not be read. Really, get out your tape and stick these pages together. Put a PostIt note on the front of the story with the note "Do not open until economy has improved." You'll thank me later. (Oh yeah, it's really good, you just don't want to read it.)
"The Fall of Ys" by Meredith Ann Pierce really requires knowledge of Celtic myth. This is one of those sories that should really stand on it's own, but really doesn't. It would be better if it were framed as a story within a story, so that the traditional myth could be briefly retold than this story could be told from a "what really happened" perspective. Maybe there wasn't enough space to do it that way, I don't know. In the end, it was somewhat disapointing.
"Medusa" by Michael Cadnum was another story that requires knowledge of myth. However, I think that this story still permeates our mainstream culture, so that's OK. Unlike many retellings, it really dwells on
the concept that the Greek gods really don't care about humans, so I applaud its historical accuracy as well as the way that it twists the form just enough to resolve appropriately for modern audiences.
"The Black Fox" by Emma Bull and Charles Vess is a surprise comic book! Like most of Emma's work, it's well researched and well told. Like most of Charles's work, it's very well drawn and annoylingly lettered. I mean, sure the lettering is beautiful, but it's a little harder to read than the more classic style. Maybe it's just what I'm used to, I don't know. Anyway, it's a good retelling of a classic folk song and again tweaked so as to be accessible to modern readers. I enjoyed it.
"Byndley" by Patricia A. McKillip is pretty much a classic McKillip story. The writing sparkles and the storytelling winds its way through the woods much like the characters it describes. It feels like it should be a novel, yet, at the same time, it's good that it's not. As a novel, it would be ponderous and difficult to get through. As it is, you come in at the end of the story and enough is retold that you understand and appreciate it. It's done well and well done.
"The Lady of the Ice Garden" by Kara Dalkey was another retelling of "The Snow Queen", and I must admit that Kelly Link's version has spoiled me forever. Had I not read that one, I would have thoroughly enjoyed Dalkey's version. As it was, there seemed to be something missing. Granted, there is a subtlety to Japanese culture that I may be missing due to incomplete historical knowledge, but in the end, I just didn't enjoy this one as much as Link's. So it goes.
"Hope Chest" by Garth Nix was holy-crap-what-am-I-reading fantastic. It's another foundling story, but is very different from any other such story I've ever read. It takes the interlinked concepts of destiny/fate/purpose and tells a story that is every bit as heartbreaking at Greek tragedy and still unbelievably good (despite being an American Western). It's worth the price of the collection all by itself.
"Chasing the Wind" by Elizabeth E. Wein was good, but didn't make much of an impression on me. This may have been due to the immediately preceding "Hope Chest", but it could also have been that it was about a time period that doesn't really do much for me, nor does aviation history. I suspect that WWII and aeroplane aficionados would have a very different opinion.
"Little Dot" by Diana Wynne Jones is about kitty cats. It doesn't really work well as a story, as there are too many things left unexplained and the world isn't well built. Were this a story among other stories set in the same world, it would be better. However, the kitty cats feel real, and that's worth something.
"Remember Me" by Nancy Farmer is good but sad. It's about families and misfits. Mostly though, it's about being different, as seen by those who are not. It's short and worth reading, so I shall not say any more here.
"The Flying Woman" by Laurel Winter is an interesting exploration of magic, honor and care taking. There's also an element of "you can't change people", which is a good, though difficult, lesson to learn. In a book full of life lessons, this is an appropriate story to exit on.
Taken as a whole, the collection is wonderful, and the only real problem was that it took me five years to get to it (and then two months to write this review, *sigh*). Sure would be nice if there was a subscription model so one could get the latest monthly or bimonthly Sharyn November book without having to track them all down. Sure, tracking things down is fun, but I don't have the same amount of sleuthing time I once did.
But, if that's the biggest complaint I have, I guess I'm OK.
This magical collection covers a wide range of genres --- fantasy, romance, time travel, adventure, and suspense. Popular authors such as Garth Nix and Lloyd Alexander contribute tales, along with strong, newer voices Michael Cadnum and Megan Whalen Turner.
A description of a couple of the stories hardly does this vivid collection justice, but it does show that there is something for all readers here. In Nix's "Hope Chest," sixteen-year-old Alice, who is adopted, is surprised when the never-opened magic chest that she was discovered with as a baby springs open to reveal some powerful guns. Her hands know what to do with them but her heart does not, until evil comes to her town. In Turner's "The Baby in the Night Deposit Box," a child is slipped through the slot for night deposits, and is raised by the bank and its workers. The child, Penny, is happy enough until someone comes to claim her "deposit."
Editor Sharyn November is known for seeking input from teens, which is undoubtedly a large part of what makes this collection so strong. FIREBIRDS is a great gift for the many devoted fans of fantasy stories, or for anyone looking for a highly engaging read.
--- Reviewed by Amy Alessio