Book Review: The Oxford Book of Fantasy Stories

oxford book of fantasy stories
oxford book of fantasy stories (Photo credit: cdrummbks)

 

Book Review: The Oxford Book of Fantasy Stories selected by Tom Shippey

 

Traci Kenworth

 

 

 

Oxford University Press         1994

 

 

 

This book is full of some of the greats. I marvel at their worlds, their characters, the journeys taken. I’m only going to review a few stories, but I encourage you to try this edition, you’re sure to find something you like. In The Nameless City by H.P. Lovecraft, we find ourselves deep in the tomb of an ancient race that even the Arabian people avoid going to. Every sentence pulls us further into discovery even though our first impulse is to turn and climb back up into safety. You can almost feel the dead’s bandages skim your skin, their breath heavy, while they reach to end your own life.

 

Homecoming by Ray Bradbury tells the haunting tale of a boy born into a family of vampires, who isn’t one himself. He tries his best to fit in but the taste of blood sickens him, he can’t abide sleeping in a coffin, and he bears the scorn of his brothers and sisters. With only a pet spider to talk to, he struggles with who he is and who he will or won’t be. I hesitate to use the word “heartbreaker” with this story, but it is such. Haven’t we all wanted to fit in better?

 

Bite-Me-Not or Fleur de Fur by Tanith Lee unfolds in a cursed castle where the Duke has lost his family and has been forced to close his court to the outer world where vampires seek a way into his midst. A chambermaid sings a song she doesn’t understand, dreaming of being the Duke’s daughter. Later after he stumbles across her, she is so like his deceased daughter, he adopts her as his own. When the prince of these “fallen angels” as they’re described finds an entrance, he is taken hostage. While the courtiers gather around taunting the prince and prepare to slaughter him, the chambermaid takes pity upon him and escapes the castle with him. Thus begins their sorrowful legend.

 

Troll Bridge by Terry Pratchett focuses on Cohen the Barbarian, old, and tired of the way things in life have become. He decides to battle a troll like in the old days. Only the one he finds gives him some disturbing news.

 

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