Sunday, March 6, 2011

Book Review: Hellebore and Rue

Hellebore and Rue
Drollerie Press

'Lo Peoples,

Her Tangh-iness has been remiss in the blog department. She is delighted to return to defend the honor of works unfortunately besieged by the small-minded. As an Outer Alliance member and as an ally to the LGBTQ community, I applaud and am committed to inclusion especially in the worlds of the Fantastic.

Whenever I read a work of fiction, I am longing to be transported. I want to love what's going on and to love whomever it's happening to. Editors know this and the best of them patiently sift through hours of preternatural wordage in order to yield a suitable harvest. I bow to the wisdom of Joselle Vanderhooft and Catherine Lundoff here.

Twelve tales of women loving women and their magic brought me the required ensorcellment. Milleus ranged from a slightly altered here-and-now to a fantastical futureverse. Certain stories reverberated with the burr of a fast-moving dragon's scales, obscured their happy endings as in gazing into a cloudy crystal ball, and plunged the reader into another character's existence in the literary equivalent of bi-location. Several stories in particular act as threshold guardians with their shared archetype of a troubled stranger bringing challenge to an established magic-worker and two intimate companions relying upon one another to battle malefic forces.

Standout stories included: And Out of the Strong Came Forth Sweetness by Lisa Nohealani Morton where a good deed yields an unexpected and unforgettable sacrifice; Trouble Arrived by C. B. Calsing brings us down to the swamp where a card dealer faces off with the cheated man who once taught her all the tricks she knew; Personal Demons by Jean Marie Ward caught me totally off guard with a tale of what happens when a serious practitioner gives proof of the reality beyond the flesh; Connie Wilkins shared The Windskimmer where two seasoned conjurers of Sky and Green magic combine their arts to avert tragedy.

Special mention must be made of Rachel Green's multiple viewpoint tale, A State of Panic, where arcane detective work eventually leads a female police sergeant to a deadly ancient diety.

For those who appreciate a touch of wicked absurdity, do partake of D is for Delicious by Steve Berman; I want to follow Kelly Harmon's heroines of Sky Lit Bargains in a longer work if not a sequel; Gloam and Quinn Smythwood educated me as to the ills that attend corpse lights and life-stealing things that walk the earth; Witches Have Cats by Juliet Kemp answers the question: is a familiar that is not a feline just as familiar? RRain Prior takes a rogue elemental and a wandering songstress and pits them against one another in Bridges and Lullabies by RRain Prior; Thin Spun by Sunny Moraine gives an interplanetary exile a new appreciation for her adoptive homeworld and an end to her longing for a lover; and in Counter Balance by Ruth Sorrell a grandmother, a granddaughter, and the granddaughter's lover make a stand against a goddess.

Note: This copy of Hellebore and Rue was an electronic edition acquired from an editor upon the reviewer's request. Her Tangh-i-ness usually reviews on a for-the-love basis. No lucre has been involved.

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