“The New Voices of Fantasy” is an eclectic mixture of diverse fantasy authors, featuring a multitude of subgenres in stories set around the globe. Although the short story format means that the worlds and cultures the authors have created appear only in snippet form, which is not normally my favorite way to experience fantasy, this collection is filled with beautifully written stories, and was a good way to sample the styles of authors I either had been considering reading but had not gotten around to, or had never encountered before at all.
Like all anthologies of this type, some stories will be more to a given reader’s taste than others, but all of them are well-crafted. The authors all have impressive credentials, including multiple awards and training at various MFA programs or at places like Clarion West and Iowa. Unsurprisingly, the stories do tend to have that “MFA feel” to them, full of symbolism and finely honed language, which is a specific writing style that either you like or you don’t. So while fantasy, this collection is definitely highbrow fantasy, and it’s up to you whether that’s your thing or not. However, given that this is a collection of short stories, the commitment to each individual story is not great, so this is a good opportunity to browse and try something different.
And there are certainly some excellent pieces of fantasy fiction here, spanning everything from folk tales to dark fantasy/horror to sci fi with a fantasy edge. Some particularly standout stories for me were Ursula Vernon’s “Jackalope Wives,” a distinctly American take on the story of the skinchanging wife, E. Lily Yu’s “The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees,” a Chinese-infused fable/allegory about insect communities, and Usman T. Malik’s “The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn,” about a first-generation American son of Pakistani immigrants who discovers mystical secrets about his past. But every single one of the stories included in this collection was highly worth reading, and I would recommend this anthology to anyone interested in trying out some “literary” and multicultural fantasy by up-and-coming authors.
My thanks to NetGalley for providing a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.