When I was asked to read and review this anthology I will admit I was just bit reluctant, but I could not ignore the suggestion of author Wulf Moon, whom I respect both as a writer and a friend, coupled with the irresistible lure of magic. My reluctance isn’t surprising to me, as a rule, I detest short stories, which I personally define as any story less than two hundred pages. I admit I am a bit of snob about it. For me, as a reader, they generally represent both the best and the worst of my motivation to read and it boils down simply to storytelling. In my experience, there are some authors that just cannot tell an enthralling story in a small space. Even worse than a substandard tale is a story I don’t want to end. When an author has spun a story so complex and inviting that it sucks me into my happy place, a few thousand words are really not going to be enough.
The Best Of Deep Magic Anthology One is chock full of the latter, even then there are those that stand out. I agonize that stories like The Apothecant by Brendan Taylor, The Beesinger’s Daughter by Jeff Wheeler, and A Theft of Words by D K Homberg aren’t thousand-page novels. All three represent beautifully crafted fantasy worlds that I could spend much time exploring. The heroines in The Wizard’s Granddaughter by Christopher Baxter and Lady of War by Caitlyn McFarland are just begging to helm a series of books. Among the young adult crowd, Pirate Readers by James van Pelt could start a revolution and Salt and Water by Charlie M. Holmberg would send hearts a flutter if offered in multi-volume sets.
Ironically, of my favorite story in the collection, I would not ask for more. While Imperial Ghosts by Arinn Dembo sports strong relatable characters, has a wonderfully layered and detailed world along with enough passion and intrigue to fill volumes, it is told beautifully from beginning to lovely surprising end.
I am definitely glad I didn’t let my snobbery keep me from enjoying what this anthology has to offer. I am certainly looking forward to further anthologies, not to mention glimpses into the Deep Magic e-magazine from which these stories have been culled.
I did receive a free copy of this book for the purposes of review