This is my fifth and final read for the Once Upon a Time II challenge, and what a corker. I am a huge fan of short stories (I may have said this before) and this is a strong collection. I began by trying to read one story a day, but actually ended up reading it almost like a novel. I heard someone in a radio interview (I think it was Anne Enright but I may be wrong) saying that she approaches a book of short stories like a box of chocolates – she can’t stop at just one, and despite my attempts at discipline I’m exactly the same.

The Faery Reel, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling brings together some of the finest fantasy authors and challenges them to write new works about faery in all its guises, and they all rise to the occasion. There wasn’t a single piece in this collection that I didn’t enjoy, but my particular favourites were:

CATNYP by Delia Sherman – a changeling in the faery version of the NY public library, where the catalogue is a talking lion whose first words are always “Title. Author. Subject. Keyword.” This is probably my favourite story in the book, and a new author for me to investigate!

The Faery Handbag by Kelly Link – sassy heroine, very enjoyable.

Never Never by Bruce Glassco – what is it like to be Captain Hook?

And of course there is a contribution from Neil Gaiman, and a wonderful, entertaining and enlightening introduction by Terri Windling herself, with a list of books for me to pursue a continuing interest in the faery world.

As an added bonus, the Charles Vess illustrations at the head of each story are really wonderful, and I can’t recommend this too highly.

And I have now completed my first (but certainly not my last) challenge!

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