on 30 April 2018
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An anthology of sparkling adult f/sf stories featuring underwater ballrooms of one sort or another, from a 30s ballroom to a Martian hotel to a grand rock 'n roll ball held in the heart of Faery itself. Edited by Stephanie Burgis and Tiffany Trent.
The stories in The Underwater Ballroom Society have one thing in common: underwater ballrooms. Writers Tiffany Trent and Stephanie Burgis thought the concept of an underwater ballroom was a great idea for an anthology. Soon enough they found other writers who joined in.
I laughed, I cried, I loved and was terrified. This anthology plays with your emotions like a faerie plays with a fair maiden’s heart. Each ballroom has its own story, own origin, and use. The water is either real, imaged, or long gone. But each one of these stories is a fairy tale in its own right. They’re all magical and worth reading.
The anthology as a whole receives five stars. The collection of all the different stories, genres and authors is excellent. Each story adds its own flavour to the mix. Take your time exploring each ballroom. They deserve it. The Underwater Ballroom Society will come next Tuesday, 30th of April.
The Queen of Life – Ysabeau S. Wilce
The Queen of Life starts by describing the fame of the Love’s Devotion band and it immediately reminded me of Within Temptation, a Dutch metal band. Their first album was definitely inspired by faeries. It wouldn’t surprise me if Oberon wanted to kidnap them for his court as well. I added their song ‘Ice Queen’ below, the song that I had to think off while reading this story.
The story is enchanting, and not just because Sylvanna is travelling to the Fae. She faces Death with confidence in his defeat and her precious corgi leads her into the Dark Realm so she’s not under a glamour when she wishes for Robert’s release. It reads like a classic fairy tale and is definitely enjoyable.
Twelve Sisters – Y. S. Lee
Lee has taken a faerie tale and wrote what comes after. This time it’s not the happy ending, although it’s ending is happier than the beginning. It reminded me that the folk tales most fairy tales are based upon weren’t the Disney versions we see now. They involved violence in many ways, torture, abuse. Love rarely was part of the story. I love what she did in this follow-up.
Penhallow Amid Passing Things – Iona Datt Sharma
I have to admit that my attention was divided when I read this one. It’s less fairy tale like than the others, more adventure style. Smugglers working in deep, elaborate tunnels to make sure the wares stay hidden. And one of those tunnels leads to an old underwater ballroom. It didn’t help it felt complicated to me. There were references to later and earlier and it made me feel that I missed things. The story itself was interesting and I now wonder how the story continues.
Mermaids, Singing – Tiffany Trent
I’ve read some really good fantasy books centred around the circus and if this was a complete novel, I’d add it to the list. The story is sweet and painful at the same time. Trent has created two interesting worlds and connected them in an original way. I wish I could read more about Abby’s adventures in Scientia.
A Brand New Thing – Jenny Moss
The best stories are the ones that break the mundane. Why should you be like everybody else while you’re such an interesting person? Eve is a girl to my heart. She’s odd, by society’s standards, but she follows her heart and there is where she finds love. My heart fluttered reading this.
Four Revelations from the Rusalka Ball – Cassandra Khaw
If it was up to me, I would never attend the Rusalka Ball. Even if there’s the promise of heaven, my life isn’t worth it. This story is only a couple of pages long, but it’s long enough to create a vivid picture of a Rusalka Ball, even if you don’t want to see what happens there. That’s magic. Khaw knows how to paint a masterpiece inside your mind with a limited amount of words.
Spellswept – Stephanie Burgis
Stephanie Burgis writes the stories that I want to read and Spellswept is another perfect example. I had read Snowspelled before so I familiar with the characters of Amy, Cassandra and Johnathan, but Spellswept happens before Snowspelled. It doesn’t matter in what order you read them, but once you’ve read one, you’ll want to read the other.
Amy takes the stage now and Burgis has done a great job at introducing new characters to highlight the relationships between the main cast. I loved meeting Miranda, Amy’s mentor and mother of Cassandra and Johnathan. The end had me in tears. It was heartfelt, beautiful and a perfect way to end a magical evening.
The River Always Wins – Laura Anne Gilman
Not your classical ballroom, but an underwater club, filled with mythical creatures, trying to have fun on the last evening before the club is closed down. There’s an interesting dynamic between the main characters and the others. You can clearly see the relationships between the different races. It’s elegantly written, while the story itself is as punk as the public of the club.
The Amethyst Deceiver – Shveta Thakrar
When you think you know everything, but there’s still something your missing. The theme of deception was well executed. And the reason why the deception was necessary was touching and a real twist.
What I like most about this story, is the Asian touch. I still want to see more, so I’m excited to read more by Thakrar in the up-coming anthology A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh. That anthology focuses completely on Asian/East-Asian folklore. If you liked this anthology, you will probably like that one as well.
A Spy in the Deep – Patrick Samphire
After getting to know the setting (Regency Britain on Mars – heck, count me in), Samphire’s story held me in its grip. Harriet George is an interesting girl and she’s taken on an interesting mission. It reminded me of the Agatha Christie stories I read and watched long ago. A dozen witnesses in one room, with one murderer in the middle. A classic whodunnit. I’ll be sure to read the other Harriet George stories in the future.