TITLE: F Is For Fairy (Alphabet Anthologies #6)
EDITOR: Rhonda Parrish
440 pages, Poise and Pen Publishing, ISBN 9781988233543 (softcover and e-book)
Description: “Anyone who believes that faeries are wee, golden-haired creatures with dragon-fly wings and sweet intentions has never met a real faerie.” –Suzanne Willis, “A Silver Thread Between Worlds”
Retellings of familiar favorites from new perspectives, and brand-new stories share the pages of this fairy-themed collection. Within these offerings you’ll find fairy music and food, contracts (making and breaking them), changelings, circles and curses–these stories deliver all the things you already love about fairies and a few new tricks as well. A dusting of dragons, shapeshifters and ogres accompany these tales which include feminist fairies overcoming trauma, Norse fairies breaking the rules to interfere in human affairs, intergalactic fairies hitching a ride to a new home, political satire featuring an idiot king and talking animals, a new Robin Archer story, fairy run nightclubs and so, so much more.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
My Thoughts: Disclaimer: I received a free Advanced Review Copy of this title via Booksprout in return for an honest review on multiple platforms. This is a more detailed version of the review left on Goodreads, Amazon, etc.
F Is for Fairy continues Rhonda Parrish's greatly enjoyable "alphabet anthology" series with 26 stories ranging from flash fiction to almost novella length. Of course, not every story will work for every reader. But the majority of these worked for me.
The authors give us a wide variety of types of faeries, from the high fantasy/Tolkeinesque to tiny troublemakers of the Disney variety. L.S. Johnson’s “A” story treats us to a tweak of the Sleeping Beauty myth that makes the narrative even more timely and topical, touching on gaslighting, victims keeping secrets and women finding power in each other, while Brittany Warman’s “N” is a very dark take on Peter Pan. Sara Cleto’s “T” is not a tweak on a Disney-fication of darker tales but is a really cool tweak on certain events in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Pete Aldin’s “E” brings Irish pixies to colonial Australia, touching on inherited and learned prejudices and how easy it is to lose your family history, while Samantha Kymmell-Harvey’s “S” brings World War One to a small French fairy enclave. C.S. MacCath’s “B” gives us warrior elves of the Nordic variety encountering Church-guided bigotry in the not-so-distant-as-it-seems past. Steve Bornstein’s “F” is perhaps the most High Fantasy concept (a lost fairy is led by a friendly dragon to the only person who can send him home: the Scourge of Dragons) but contains some creative world-building that moves it beyond the glut of formulaic High Fantasy on the market.
One of the few comedic contributions is Jonathan C. Parrish’s “C,” centered around the idea of elves loving to make deals, and all the ways in which greed and rash decisions can make those contracts go wrong. Equally humorous is Michael B. Tager’s “P,” a twist on portal and prophecy tales.
Urban fantasy is well represented. In Stephanie A. Cain’s “G,” we meet Lucy Ruiz and see how she learns about the world of werewolves and fairies that interacts with our own. If this isn’t an origin story for an on-going character, I’ll be greatly surprised. The story has charm and Lucy has real spark with the werewolf character. Laura VanArendonk Baugh’s “W” is touted as “the latest Robin Archer” story. I’m not familiar with the series but based on this story I need to check it out. It’s urban fantasy with a crime noir twist that’s a bit darker than the faux-noir of the Harry Dresden series. (Actually, I can easily see Robin Archer and October Daye teaming up.) But not all of the urban fantasy tales feel like parts of series: Michael M. Jones’ “X” and Lilah Ward’s “O” tales both take place in nightclubs where human girls encounter Ladies of the Fae – but that’s about all they have in common, and both are excellent.
Then there are those genre-blending stories that every anthology needs to have. In Jeanne Kramer-Smyth’s “D,” aliens encounter fairies; Beth Cato’s “Z” brings us to the end of human civilization and how the elves might have both caused it and try to preserve it, and BD Wilson’s “V” posits a post-apocalyptic society guided by fairies.
Notice I'm not sharing story titles: part of the fun of Parrish's anthologies is figuring out what word the author is centering the story on with the letter they were assigned. Some of them might be easy to guess just from the short descriptions I’ve given, but I think most will be a pleasant surprise.