Sunday, December 6, 2020

Upon a Once Time


Upon a Once Time is a very well curated anthology of fairy tale retellings, blendings, reinterpretations, and mash-ups. Released 1st Nov 2020, it's 232 pages and available in paperback format. 

One reason I prefer collections and anthologies is that short fiction is really challenging.  It's spare and the author doesn't have a wealth of wordage to develop characters or the plotting.  Well written short fiction is a delight. I also love collections because if one story doesn't really grab me, there's another story just a few pages away.  These 21 stories were a mixed bag; there were some standouts, a few middle-of-the-road, and only one I wasn't engaged enough to finish. I read it more or less cover to cover, which is unusual with me for anthologies; I generally hop around. 

I picked up this title because of my familiarity with some of the contributors. I was surprised to find that the stories which really engaged me and kept me enthralled were from the authors with whom I hadn't developed a previous reading relationship. It's always wonderful to find authors to follow, and for this reason alone, this was a useful reading pick. 

A short search online leads me to believe that these are all previously unpublished stories. The publisher and other reviewers have provided better précis than I could. I will say that a couple of the high points of this collection for me, personally, were ones which I saw panned by other reviewers.  The stories run the gamut from light fantasy, through fantasy realism, as well as horror. The base source material for the stories is taken from a wide variety of countries and cultures.

The art by Serena Malyon is absolutely sublime - what a delight!

It's an entertaining and worthwhile collection. I'm fascinated (and happy) to find that it was at least partially a kickstarter project. I have admittedly been worried about the future of indie publishing given the current world situation and knowing that really top shelf fiction can successfully be crowdsourced is reassuring. 

Four strong stars, several 4.5 - 5 star stories here.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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