Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells, ed. By Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling. Tom Doherty Associates LLC, 2013

I made the mistake of thinking this was a steampunk anthology; it’s not. It’s Gaslamp Fantasy; fantasy stories set in the Victorian era with magic included. Here you will no find brass goggles or airship pirates. But it was a happy mistake, because I enjoyed this book very much.

Victoria reigned for a very long time, so there is variety of events, inventions, real people, and movements to choose from when writing in the era. A couple of the stories are actually about Victoria; the title story is, if you know about the relationship between Victoria and Prince Albert, heartbreaking as well as a warning to be careful what you wish for when working magic. I loved ‘For Briar Rose’ simply because it involved Edward Burne-Jones and William and Jane Morris; the pre-Raphaelite artistic movement is simply my favorite ever. In other stories, the Bronte family, Frankenstein, Scrooge and the Crachit family show up. There is true horror- one story features one of the women who worked in the match factories who developed the terrible ‘Phossy jaw’ where the phosphate from the matches eats away the jaw bones. And ‘The Fairy Enterprise’ wherein an amoral industrial decides to take advantage of gullible society and ends up getting what he deserves made is a dark story, but made me laugh.

It’s a very solid anthology; while there were, of course, a couple of stories I didn’t like, they are all good and well written and I’m glad I read them. 

The above is an affiliate link; if you click through it and buy the book, Amazon gives me a tiny bit of money.

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