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Book Review: Bad-Ass Faeries edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail (et al.)

* Genre: Fantasy, Short Fiction
* ISBN: 1892669404
* ISBN-13: 9781892669407
* Format: Paperback, 216pp
* Publisher: Marietta Publishing Company
* Pub. Date: May 2007

Although I disapprove of the title, I still found Bad-Ass Faeries edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, to be a pretty good collection of stories. At least, that�s true if you discount the one or two stories that really boiled down to faerie porn. Which, ironically, is part of the humor in the story by Den C. Wilson, Heart of Vengeance (Well, elf porn, anyway). All, in all though, the collection is pretty good. It is targeted in its concept, but broad in its application. There are science fiction stories, high fantasy stories, westerns, and even a couple of noir mysteries. And yet all center on the faerie race, at least as a starting point.

Divided into five sections, these nineteen stories are short, roughly six to ten pages in length, but without the text being too small to read. The illustrations appear only at the beginning of each section, with each story�s first page sitting in frames. The frames do cause some odd sentence breaks at the end of the pages, due to the way the frame is laid out, but it is not really a problem. I disliked the illustrations throughout and on the cover. Although they were three dimensional, they looked more like an art student�s sketches than professional work. This will be a turn off to the casual reader, but I suggest reading some of the stories before judging on the basis of illustrations and cover.

Rather than summarize all nineteen stories, I�d like to focus on a few I enjoyed. Den C. Wilson�s Heart of Vengeance takes an ironic look at the types of folks who end up at science fiction and fantasy conventions. Even better, this is one of the rare few that works with faeries outside of the usual standard Celtic and or Western style fairy.

House Arrest by Keith R. A. DeCandido takes the traditional brownie story and turns it on its head. What happens, after all, when a house fairy doesn�t get his milk? This story had, for me, a surprising ending and I thought this to be a clever little story.

The Last Night of the Lazarus Brothers by C. J. Henderson was one of the noir mysteries. The ending ultimately surprised me, especially since I thought that this story was just going to be standard Christian bashing, but ended up being quite different. The answer to “who did it?” is a neat little twist.

There were several I thought ruined the value of the anthology as a whole. They wanted more to talk about sex than to really tell a story. Those kinds of stories belong elsewhere, in collections for people who like that sort of fiction. Obviously, a sexual reference or two is not what I am writing about. There were two in particular that I felt elevated the sexual aspect of the story from simple being an element of the story or creating tension in it to faerie porn. Snow in July by Jeff Lyman uses a very descriptive sex scene to have two characters relate to each other. One character seduces another to sex in the air, and then forces that other character to fall by stopping beating her wings. The intent was to have one character teach another about danger. Well, the danger could have a occurred simply by holding another and stopping the wing beat, no sex needed, especially not when words like �thrust� and �foreplay� enter into the narrative. Well, that makes t more porn than story for me at least.

This was only the most egregious use, Pennidreadful by Lorne Dixon was also more crass about sex than was necessary to make the story interesting. In this case, we do hate Pennidreadful the character more as result, but there were other ways to show her evil nature or selfish need than to have her masturbate. This was a poor choice for inclusion.

Many of the stories are good, and the reader will have to take the good with the bad. The good stories are worth it to pick up this anthology and Danielle Ackley-McPhail, the chief editor, made some good choices. All of the editors included their own stories in the collection (the others are L. Jagi Lamplighter, Lee Hillman, and Jeff Lyman) something I usually dislike editors doing.

Bad-Ass Faeries is an eclectic and interesting collection that succeeds despite the dirty minds of some of its contributors. None of the stories is the same and several have very neat take on fairies. If you like faeries you�ll enjoy this collection, although as the title intimates, these aren�t your normal faeries.

The entire list of stories is below:

“Bad-Ass Faeries” by Monica Richards
“Image”Futuristic Cybernetic Faerie Assassin Hasballah” by Adam P. Knave
“Make Love, Not War” by Lee C. Hillman
“Heart of Vengeance” by Den C. Wilson
“Ballad of the Seven Up Sprite” by Brian Koscienski & Chris Pisano
“Snow in July” by Jeff Lyman
“House Arrest” by Keith R.A. DeCandido
“A Pressing Problem” by Donald W. Schank
“Hidden in the Folds” by Jesse Harris
“Pennidreadful” by Lorne Dixon
“On Oberon�s Throne” by L. Jagi Lamplighter
“Sally Smiles” by James Chambers
“The Faerie Queen of Lo Mein” by Vincent Collins
“Hollow Dreams” by Elaine Corvidae
“Wings of Soul” by R. Allen Leider
“At the Crossroads” by Danielle Ackley-McPhail
“Down These Mean Streets a Faerie Must Go” by John Sunseri
“ENDGAME” by Patrick Thomas
“The Last Night of the Lazarus Brothers” by CJ Henderson

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