If you’re looking for bite-size, fairy-tale feel fantasies with awesome girls in the lead, then this short story anthology should be right up your street!
Book: The Blood of Four Gods and Other Stories by Jamie Lackey
Read before: No
Ownership: E-ARC provided by NetGalley for fair review. All opinions my own.
Short story anthologies are usually so hard to review, as there’s always one or two that stand out as being good, and a couple that you weren’t so interested in. I do have some favourites in this anthology, but despite the diverse settings and situations, they all have the same magical, lyrical, fairy tale feel. This made it a really easy read that had plenty of flow, despite the short stories.
Each of these stories features a girl. Some of the stories have her finding love, some have her finding power, or acceptance, or something else important. In a few, she is saved by a man; in more, she is saved by her own bravery, or cleverness, or heart. In my favourite story in the collection, The Value of Weakness, the protagonist is saved from her own misery by accepting that she is loved – there’s also a magical lion-girl, an ostrich mount, and plenty of magic!
The writing is fairly simple, but not in a bad way. Just in a way that makes it melt effortlessly into the story and lets you get on with seeing the pictures it describes, rather than focusing on pretty prose. It works beautifully for the feel of the stories. The stories themselves are short, which is very refreshing for fantasy – they’d make a great palate cleanser between longer books.
One quick note is that a lot of these stories draw from either South American or Asian culture and myths, and I don’t think that the author is an #ownvoices writer for either of these – while I really enjoy seeing fantasy based on different mythologies, I can’t speak to how accurately any of the cultures are represented. In particular, a few stories focus on the Aztec gods – so your mileage may vary on this representation. Just something to bear in mind.
Overall, this was an entertaining read and I’d like to see more from this author. Four out of five cats.