Dark Alchemy: Magical Tales from Masters of Modern Fantasy by Gardner Dozois (Editor), Jack Dann (Editor)

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Dark Alchemy: Magical Tales from Masters of Modern Fantasy by Gardner Dozois (Editor), Jack Dann (Editor)

Category: Short Stories
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Loralei Haylock
Reviewed by Loralei Haylock
Summary: A brilliant collection of short stories, perfect for any fantasy fan, children and adults alike.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 544 Date: September 2008
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 978-0747589549

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I'm always in two minds about short story collections. On the one hand it's a bit of a risk – there could be one or two really good stories and a load of rubbish. But, the great thing about them is they can introduce you to writers you might never have read otherwise. While you probably wouldn't be prepared to invest time and money into a book you aren't sure you'll like, spending half an hour or so reading a short story won't leave you feeling too robbed if you don't enjoy it.

The tagline Stories by the foremost fantasy writers working today does immediately do something to assuage such worries about quality, but as I sat down to read Dark Alchemy, I found myself thinking: just who are Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois (the editors) and why should I trust their opinion on who are the masters of modern fantasy?

While you may not trust my opinion any more than theirs – I thought Dark Alchemy was great. It is a collection of stories about wizards and magic, with tales set in our world, other worlds, hell, heaven and all the places in between. Most of the stories are fantastic, and the ones that aren't still manage very good. There was only one story out of the eighteen that left me feeling indifferent.

Dark Alchemy draws you in with the big famous names – Garth Nix, Eoin Colfer and Neil Gaiman are all printed on the front, people you would have to have been living under a rock for some considerable time not to have heard of. Granted, I'm not the most widely read fantasy fan, but I hadn't even vaguely heard of any of the others. Hopefully riding on the fame of those who made the front cover will promote these lesser known authors, as easily the best stories were written by them.

While Colfer's A Fowl Tale has all his charm and humour, and Gaiman's The Witch's Headstone is wonderfully quirky, my personal favourites were The Stranger's Hands by Tad Williams, a tale about hearts' desires and being careful what you wish for, and Zinder by Tanith Lee – a beautifully written story about an ugly duckling who turns into far more than just a swan.

Dark Alchemy is perfect for any fan of fantasy. If you enjoy short stories, or are just looking for a new favourite author, it comes highly recommended.

My thanks to the publishers for sending a copy.

If you enjoyed Garth Nix's and Neil Gaiman's short stories, both have published their own collections – Across the Wall and M is for Magic, respectively. Winterstrike by Liz Williams is also worth a look.

Buy Dark Alchemy: Magical Tales from Masters of Modern Fantasy by Gardner Dozois (Editor), Jack Dann (Editor) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dark Alchemy: Magical Tales from Masters of Modern Fantasy by Gardner Dozois (Editor), Jack Dann (Editor) at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Dark Alchemy: Magical Tales from Masters of Modern Fantasy by Gardner Dozois (Editor), Jack Dann (Editor) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dark Alchemy: Magical Tales from Masters of Modern Fantasy by Gardner Dozois (Editor), Jack Dann (Editor) at Amazon.com.


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