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Elf love : an anthology

von Josie Brown (Herausgeber), Rose Mambert (Herausgeber), Bill Racicot (Herausgeber)

Weitere Autoren: Jon Bishop (Mitwirkender), Josie Brown (Mitwirkender), Michelle Markey Butler (Mitwirkender), Ed Cooke (Mitwirkender), Rev DiCerto (Mitwirkender)10 mehr, Duncan Eagleson (Mitwirkender), Duncan Eagleson (Umschlagillustration), Sarah Eaton (Mitwirkender), Joanna Fay (Mitwirkender), Athena Giles (Mitwirkender), Joe Mogel (Mitwirkender), Juniper Talbot (Mitwirkender), Otilia Tena (Mitwirkender), James Thibeault (Mitwirkender), David Vernaglia (Mitwirkender)

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Diese Rezension wurde für LibraryThing Early Reviewers geschrieben.
This was painful. Look, it's a small-press anthology, and my expectations were really essentially for something that would be all right, maybe cute, mostly forgettable, and I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised. That this came down on the disappointing still, despite these limited expectations, is unfortunate, I'd say. I'm glad that the people who contributed to this sounded like they were having fun, and I think some of the pieces may have been improved with some more revision and work, but some of them (Elvis was the heir to an elf kingdom? The real provenance of fairy dust?) were probably never going to go anywhere, and others probably maxed out the limited value of the particular stories they wanted to tell. There are a couple of good stories in here; I liked To Kill the Oak King, for example. But that said, it's hard to tell if that story was good in its own right, or if it was good in the context of the other stories around it.

I don't like going on and ripping books when I don't feel I have anything intelligent to say about them that I can't sum up easily, so let's leave it at this: I would be remarkably surprised if it turned out this wasn't the worst book I read this year. I wish these people luck in the future, but there it is. ( )
  Capfox | Nov 14, 2011 |
Diese Rezension wurde für LibraryThing Early Reviewers geschrieben.
I like small presses - some of them have distinctive voices, some of them simply print whatever their editors like. But in all cases they give chances to authors that cannot or would not sign with a big publisher. And a lot of the small presses will publish short stories anthologies - it is easier to try to please more readers with different stories from different authors than to try to publish the next big novel.

So when I saw that book in the Early Reviewers list, I decided to give it a try - small press, anthology (and I love reading short fiction), fantasy - I had picked up books for less reasons than that. And when I got the book and started reading it, I had quite low expectations - I like this type of anthologies but the quality is rarely great so I had learned not to expect too much.

Unfortunately the problems start even before the stories - implying that fantasy is not mature reading and the explanation about what they decided to print is weird. In a bad way. That's a new press -- alienating everyone is a bad idea. There is NO mention anywhere what any of the editors consider good literature (besides the dedication to Tolkien... even though the way it is done it sounds more like an attempt of a witty line that matches the anthology theme than a real dedication... might be wrong though). You just cannot explain how you want to print "things that do not suck" without explaining what you like.

And then there is the very strange decision to preface every story with a line from the story (just above the author/story bio). Usually an important line. Sometimes a line that ruins part of the story - because knowing that this line is coming, you see some things differently -- sometimes it might lead you in the wrong direction but these are short stories -- in most cases as soon as you start reading, you know what is coming because of that line. I stopped reading these lines after the first few stories and then checked them after I read the story itself -- some of them just had no work there.

But let's concentrate on the stories for a while - 20 stories overall - 1 graphic and 19 traditional ones. None of them really stands out - they rate between average and plain weird (with a few being almost unreadable). And even if a few did have a potential, it was lost quite fast - a good idea and a good first few paragraphs do not make a good story when the plot get lost midway and the end is simply predictable. And despite the claim that the anthology aims at showing the elves in a new light, that never happens -- none of the stories even tries to get out of the stereotypes - both for elves portrayals and for the type of stories - a lot of the stories are trying to sound as something they are not - noir stories, fairy tale stories, you name it. They try and fail - almost as if the authors tried to fit into a framework that just does not fit their work. The only story that really worked for me was "Of Roots and Rings" (the graphic story) - the medium and the fact that the story needed to be concise allowed the author not to screw up and finish the story badly. Not that even that one is a masterpiece or really original. But compared to the rest of the stories - it does stand out. And the sad thing is that some of these stories could have been saved if someone had worked with the author (or if the author had edited the story...)

And then there is the cover. Technically the cover kinda matches the topic. But it is so cliched... and the barely dressed elf-lady is unneeded -- there is a difference between love and sex... and the cover fits the second one better.

Is that the worse anthology I had read? No, not really. Even when the stories were failing at the end, some of them did have something in them. But it is not exactly a good one either and not something I would recommend. I would pick the next book from the publisher though (depends on the topic of course but if they stay in the fantasy/borderline genres, I will give them one more chance). ( )
3 abstimmen AnnieMod | Feb 8, 2011 |
Diese Rezension wurde für LibraryThing Early Reviewers geschrieben.
Hmm, this was a mistake, I think - that'll teach me to request books I'm not sure about. You get used to covers that mislead, and I hoped this one (which I don't like) might, but there was indeed way too much sex for me. That said, some of the stories are quite good - I thought "Tidings of Comfort and Joy" was original and interesting, and the graphic story was quite attractive and thoughtful, but too many of the others rely on a mock-heroic series of names, or on intentionally shocking quantities of blood and violence, for effect. Some are disconcertingly short. Duncan Eagleson's take on Chandler looked promising but failed to live up to my hopes. Disappointing. ( )
  GeraniumCat | Feb 3, 2011 |
Diese Rezension wurde für LibraryThing Early Reviewers geschrieben.
On the whole, Elf Love was a rather disappointing collection. I understand Pink Narcissus Press is relatively new, and I was quite willing to give them a break on that account, but I came away from this anthology with only one story I would recommend highly, and wouldn't you know, it's the only one without an actual Elf in it. A few more are solid, if not full-fledged standouts. The rest, unfortunately, are stunningly average stories, where some believe they're far too clever for words, and others simply and abruptly end, as if the author had a great idea that s/he was unable to fully execute, so s/he gave up and walked away.

I certainly appreciated the fact that the anthology attempts to provide a breadth of interpretation of "elf love," and a range of genres and stories, but overall, I felt as if there was no rhyme or reason to the ordering of the collection, and thus no sense of movement or thematic flow. In fact, many of the problems I had with the anthology appear to be editorial in origin. Since this is an ARC, I was not terribly concerned about typographical mistakes, but given how late in the publishing game ARCs go out, the fact that many of the stories clearly needed a heavier editorial hand to help tweak and clean up clunky writing as well as nudge the authors towards revising many an abrupt ending was beyond disappointing.

I'm going to take a cue from another LT reviewer and go through the stories one by one. I appreciated the dedication to Tolkien and Gygax, which showed me that the editorial team knows their audience, and the introductory material certainly set me up for an enjoyable reading experience.

However.

Not an Elf Yet - Ed Cooke
"Not an Elf Yet" was an interesting choice to start with, and entertaining enough. The throwaway nod to Tolkien was amusing, and I enjoyed the support group twist. I did feel, however, that the plotline ended rather abruptly, the reveal not seeming to have any clues dropped earlier in the (incredibly short) story, making it feel very much like a deus ex machina move. I actually expected to hear a "Ba-dum, tish!" at the end.

Tidings of Comfort and Joy - Josie Brown
This was, far and away, my very favourite story in the collection. It was a wonderful take on the theme, and managed to portray a range of emotion in a very compact form. I thought the framing tale added depth that wouldn't have been there if the story had simply gone straight to the experiences of Jesse, and while the story-within-a-story verged on telling instead of showing at times, it still worked. When I hit the end of this tale and with it, the full force of what had happened and the consequential fallout, I actually had to put the anthology down and take a break, because there was no reading anything afterwards without a breather in which to recover my equilibrium. A beautiful, sad story, I'm disappointed that none of the other works rose to its level.

Reclaiming the King - Duncan Eagleson
It was a good thing I took a break, too, because reading "Reclaiming the King" directly after "Tidings of Comfort and Joy" would have been a huge mistake. This was one of the stories that felt like it thought it was too clever by half, and another that obviously had a "Ba-dum, tish!" waiting at the end. I found much of the story chaotic and muddled, leaving me in a position where I had to reread small bits in order to puzzle out what I was supposed to be getting from them. There were a number of little things that niggled at me in the reading. For instance, I did not understand the obsession with the Pontiac LeMans and wondered why, after the initial explanation, it wasn't dialed back to "the car." And I found myself oddly offended at the way references to Tolkien were mixed in so they seemed less like referencing and more like trying to pass off Tolkien's work as the author's own. (And here I'm referring to his use of "Melkor," "Teleri," "Marroc," "Noldor," "Tirion," "Alqualondë," "Ainur," "Tol Eressea," and possibly some others I'm forgetting.) Given that the elves and their cultures as presented in the story bore no resemblance to those of Middle-earth, and the fact that the story itself was just a setup for a joke, it felt very much like a sullying. Additionally, so much of the plot hung on the reader not cluing in to the joke until late in the game that if you figured it out early and quickly (which I did), it simply ended up falling flat.

Color of the Sky - Juniper Talbot
This story was the first of a few that I was unable to puzzle out. It was an interesting premise, and I enjoyed the format and mixed perspectives, and I was hooked by the idea of a murder without a body, but by the end of the tale I was no more illuminated as to what was going on than at the beginning, and I found that when nothing new came clear on a quick reread and reconsideration, I moved on. I'm as interested in surreal, strange, twisty tales as the next person, but if I don't even have a glimmering of what's going on at the end, then something's gone wrong with the text.

The Phone Booth - Athena Giles
An enjoyable tale, with an interesting setting and set-up, this one got my hopes up before dashing them on the ground with an abrupt and disappointing ending that went nowhere. Additionally, the "romantic" subplot felt tacked on and unbelievable. I would have liked to at least see this one develop into a creepy tale of stalking, if nothing else. As it was, it was an explication of a moment in time that was weird, but ultimately inconsequential.

Goodnight, My Lady - Duncan Eagleson
I disliked Eagleson's "Reclaiming the King" so much that I was not at all set up to like "Goodnight, My Lady." However, it turned out to be marginally better than "Reclaiming." Sadly, all it was was a standard 1930s noir detective pot-boiler with an elfin twist. Vaguely entertaining, but fairly forgettable.

(S)elf Love - Rose Mambert
It's all right there in the title. An exceedingly short story built around the obvious gag. Good for a quick laugh, but there's not a lot there to sink one's teeth into.

A Long Friday - David Vernaglia
I liked the way the background was sketched out in this particular tale, in that the details were not set out up front, but rather skillfully revealed over the course of the story. "A Long Friday" felt very much like a companion piece to "Goodnight, My Lady," in that it, too, was a violent portrayal of crime and law enforcement. I didn't feel like the "love" component quite fit in the plotline, since I think it required a little more foregrounding than it received, and the ending was both abrupt and brutal, which I suppose is reasonable, given what happened, but as a reader, I felt a bit like the story came to a bone-shuddering, truncated end.

One of the Huldu - Otilia Tena
Much like "Color of the Sky," "One of the Huldu" was difficult to read. The fairy-tale tenor was there, and I loved that, but I got little out of the story itself, as I felt beaten down enough by the anthology at this point that I just didn't have it in me to puzzle out what was going on. This one was far too unclear, and would've benefited from more space and clearer explanations as to what was going on.

Whelp - Michelle Markey Butler
"Whelp" had a lot of promise, and I actually really enjoyed the conceit behind it. I loved the Shakespearean reference to Peaseblossom, I loved Madison (and the reason for her name and her boyfriend's name), and I thought the complication at the end involving the main character's sister was fascinating. I would have loved to see it play out a little more, but on reflection, after "Tidings of Comfort and Joy," "Whelp" is a very solid story, and one of the better ones in the anthology.

Of Roots and Rings - Sarah Eaton and Duncan Eagleson
I actually really like the fact that Elf Love mixed mediums by including a comic/graphic short story. It was a nice change, and proved that even if I wasn't fond of Eagleson as a writer, I liked his illustrations much more (although I did have to laugh at the fact that the title lettering is rather reminiscent of that found on The Lord of the Rings-related properties). Eaton's story was compact and satisfying in a way that many of the other tales were not. I liked the fact that the ending was both bittersweet (for the elf) and hopeful (for the main character). Another solid story, and a credit to the larger collection.

Xenium - Michael Takeda
I quite enjoyed most of "Xenium," as it had a very Arabian Nights feel to it. I was impressed with the slow movement from xenophobia to understanding by the various characters, but due to an obvious omission in correct grammatical usage, I also sussed out the end of the tale and what the whole conceit was hanging on far, far earlier than I think the writer was prepared for. Unfortunately, the reveal therefore fell flat for me, as the depth of the rest of the story was swept aside in service to it. This was another story that I felt really aspired to a wonderful height, and then fell a bit short.

The Turn of the Spoon, or Love and Bootblack - Bill Racicot
This story was a fun take on both The Shoemaker's Elves and the Keebler Elves with an interesting twist. I certainly appreciate that this collection included LGBT works without larger comment, and I enjoyed the handful of stories that included these elements (this being one of them). A nice, concise story that mixed a rather light tone with a macabre twist.

The Saga of Anund the Berserk - Rev DiCerto
I certainly appreciate the Scandinavian slant present in this story, but the fact is that all the wrong words were footnoted, or rather, not enough words of Scandinavian origin were footnoted. As it stood, I found my eyes simply moving across the page while I was barely taking in what was going on and not moved to find a dictionary or other reference work to look up the things I simply wasn't getting. I hit the end, found myself unmoved and adrift, and moved on.

And Their Mothers - David Vernaglia
"And Their Mothers" is a bit of a poor followup to "A Long Friday." It was obvious that the writer was attempting to show elves as rather cruel and unfeeling to one another, but it tipped over into sexism and misogyny far too fast. While Porpra is obviously the only sympathetic character in sight, Rosa and Gris' mother (Ama) are awful caricatures of females. I cringed at the sexism slung around by Rosa when talking of Ama, and was deeply disappointed by the portrayal of Ama herself. Vernaglia went far too far, implying that where elves as a whole are cruel, elf women are even worse, and that simply didn't sit right with me. There's also a weird point of view shift away from the narrator to Rosa for the duration of a paragraph that the editors really should've caught.

The Mischief Makers - Joe Mogel
"The Mischief Makers" starts out with a promising satire of the Twilight phenomena, which I appreciated, but quickly becomes a far too heavy-handed comedy. It is rife with pratfalls, slapstick and insult humour, and that's just not my thing. I was also horribly creeped out by the romance subplot, from its non-consensual beginnings to the underage pregnancy at the end.

To Kill the Oak King - Rose Mambert
Oh, I was entranced by "To Kill the Oak King" right off the bat. I enjoyed the intrigue, the setting, the characters... It was a really very promising story, working with all the right tropes and cliches. But the end of this one was like hitting a brick wall. I think I know what the author was going for, but I was too busy picking brickwork out of my teeth to feel like it hit the mark. The parallels between the elf's experiences and what happens to the human characters were a little too tenuous to properly line up.

David and Gerty - Jon Bishop
I can say, without hyperbole, that this was an awful story. I cannot imagine why anyone would think to include something like this that not only plays on ridiculous negative stereotypes about gamers and fantasy/sci-fi fans, but is directly insulting the very audience this collection is set up for. And for that matter, not only was it a terrible choice, the topic is beyond played-out. That ship has sailed. Painting speculative fiction fans of any stripe as socially awkward, corpulent, unemployed losers is no longer fresh or edgy; it's just sad.

Unseen - James Thibeault
"Unseen" was an impressively dark and bittersweet short that worked quite well and was very solid. Some of the dialogue was a little stilted, and overall I would have liked to see more space for this story to be developed in, as the sparseness of characterization created distance between myself as a reader and any larger emotional impact.

Feather Fall - Joanna Fay
"Feather Fall," as the last piece in Elf Love, was a good choice to end on, as it returned to the more traditional application of the theme under exploration. I was taken in by the world Fay sketches out, and the conflicts within it, but this tale definitely needed far, far more space for development. It is a really interesting sip where a larger draught is needed. As a result, the love story itself is so condensed it becomes unbelievable.

As I said up top, Elf Love is an average anthology with glimmers of greatness that never quite materialize. The overall quality is not high enough for me to recommend it as a purchase, but I do hope that the folks at Pink Narcissus Press gain some experience from it, and are able to polish those glimmers and turn them into stronger, higher quality works in the future. ( )
1 abstimmen caras_galadhon | Feb 2, 2011 |
Diese Rezension wurde für LibraryThing Early Reviewers geschrieben.
Anthology of 20 short stories with the theme of elf love, published by new small press Pink Narcissus Press. This is an ARC I received through the LibraryThing Early reviewers programme.

While the cover art suggests fantasy-subgenre romance stories, the contents are a good deal more wide-ranging. There's a good sampling of traditional themes about elves, some in modern settings and some not, and the endings cover the full span from happy through bittersweet hope to tragic. The genre styles vary considerably as well. And to go with the prose stories, there's one in graphic form.

Unfortunately the quality varied considerably as well, and for me a few of the stories were a waste of dead trees; but the best were well worth my time. There were several authors whose stories felt a bit unpolished but made me inclined to find more of their work once they've got a few more kilowords under their belts. Of particular note was Duncan Eagleson, who provided my two favourite prose stories in the anthology, together with the art for the graphic story (and the cover art, which I liked less than the graphic story).

There's some violence, and some sexually explicit and some erotic content (the two are not identical) covering a range of sexual orientations, mostly not gratuitous.

In spite of the uneven quality, this is a worthwhile anthology -- this is a good selection covering a range of story types, and I could have quite happily read the whole thing in one sitting without feeling that the stories were too repetitive. While my copy was an ARC, I personally wouldn't have been disappointed had I paid the full cover price of US$15 for the trade paperback. Whether other readers feel the same will really depend on how many of the stories work for them, and regrettably I have to say that the anthology is sufficiently uneven and unpolished that I can't wholeheartedly recommend it at that price.

I'll try to write up some detailed notes on individual stories later, but in general I'd agree with TPauSilver's comments on LibraryThing. ( )
  JulesJones | Jan 21, 2011 |
keine Rezensionen | Rezension hinzufügen

» Andere Autoren hinzufügen

AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Brown, JosieHerausgeberHauptautoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Mambert, RoseHerausgeberHauptautoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Racicot, BillHerausgeberHauptautoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Bishop, JonMitwirkenderCo-Autoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Brown, JosieMitwirkenderCo-Autoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Butler, Michelle MarkeyMitwirkenderCo-Autoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Cooke, EdMitwirkenderCo-Autoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
DiCerto, RevMitwirkenderCo-Autoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Eagleson, DuncanMitwirkenderCo-Autoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Eagleson, DuncanUmschlagillustrationCo-Autoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Eaton, SarahMitwirkenderCo-Autoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Fay, JoannaMitwirkenderCo-Autoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Giles, AthenaMitwirkenderCo-Autoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Mogel, JoeMitwirkenderCo-Autoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Talbot, JuniperMitwirkenderCo-Autoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Tena, OtiliaMitwirkenderCo-Autoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Thibeault, JamesMitwirkenderCo-Autoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Vernaglia, DavidMitwirkenderCo-Autoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
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This book is dedicated to the memories of J.R.R. Tolkien and Gary Gygax...
...without whom no one would give a damn about elves.
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