The Preface and the Introduction
Of the few anthologies I have read, the preface and introduction provided at that beginning of Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells-An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy were a wonderful setup up for the handful of stories I have read so far. In the Preface, Datlow and Windling explain exactly what Gaslamp Fantasy is and how it compares/relates to Steampunk. I am especially fond of Windling’s introduction. As an English major, I was drawn in by the history of fantasy, fairies and magic in literature. Windling provided context for England fascination with the fantastical throughout the Nineteenth Century and provided quotes and literary examples. I longed to return to the classroom to read more of the works by the authors and artists that are mentioned in the introduction.
If you are curious about Gaslamp Fantasy and just want to know what it is definitely take the time to read the preface and introduction at the start of the book. It is worth your time.
Story One: “Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells” by Delia Sherman
I liked this story about the lowly research student delving deep into the life of Queen Victoria and her husband, Albert. The main character reminded me of Diana in A Discovery of Witches; someone who has a unique talent and discovers something truly amazing. My only issue with the story was the passage of time. Sometimes there were good breaks in the story, either a little image to show time had passed or a couple of hard breaks between one section and the next. I liked this story and definitely like how the character resolves her ethical conundrum in the end.
Story Two: “The Fairy Enterprise” by Jeffery Ford
This story disturbed me a bit. Perhaps because it is so applicable to the world we live in today with our rush to integrate technology into our every day lives and leaving behind the magic of the mysteries in life. This was a solidly written story. However, I felt a bit disconnected from the plot. There seems to be something more about the world that the author wants to share, but due to brevity required for an anthology that information cannot be doled out.
Story Three: “From the Catalogue of the Pavilion of the Uncanny and Marvellous, Scheduled for Premiere at the Great Exhibition (Before the Fire)” by Genevieve Valentine
I was not a fan of this story. It was just a collection of blurbs about a building at The Great Exhibition. I found it difficult figure out what exactly the scandal was about the building and why certain individuals, who were not well introduced, felt the need for the building to disappear.
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