Friday, March 30, 2012

Fairytales Slashed: Volume 3 (anthology)

Fairytales Slashed: Volume 3
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: GLBT, Fantasy
Length: Word count: 143,000
Authors: Megan Derr, Mara Ismine, A.R. Jarvis, and Remington Ward.


In this third compilation of fairytales, see what happens when people and places are more than they seem...

Rasnake tells the tale of a man returning home after years away, only to find his home in shambles, his Princess missing, and his brother a stranger. It will take the help of his sworn brother, a battle bonded elf, to regain his blood brother and restore the fractured kingdom... Pretty tells the tale of a young man faced with a marriage he cannot bear to go through with, who runs away from home and finds himself stranded in a forest... He Shall Go to the Ball is the tale of a young man whose best chance at escaping his despicable stepfather is by making the most of the fact he teased relentlessly for his feminine beauty... Greenwood tells the story of a man who lost everything defending the man he loved, and who now spends his days as a mysterious figured in a dark hood, leading a band of thieves... and Moth to the Flame is the tale of a man sent on assignment to a castle where he meets and falls in love with a beautiful prince. But the prince later has no memory of their night together, and the young man determines to deduce the mystery and gain back his prince at any cost.

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Rasnake by Megan Derr

Told from the POV of Tallant, the elf and the outsider, we see a kingdom brought to its knees by the weaknesses of its ruler. Tallant’s sworn battle-mate, Milton, is returning home after an absence of years, to find that his younger brother Cecil is doing his best to hold the place together. By necessity, Cecil’s become a much harder man than the dreamy scholar he’d been as a boy. Beset by dragons coming through the crumbling wards, and now with mysterious kidnappings and deaths, the kingdom needs the strange skills and outside viewpoint Milton and Tallant bring home.


The source story wasn’t evident to me, which is fine: the story unfolded beautifully anyway, and the budding interest between Cecil and Tallant did not get in the way of the adventure. Certain words meant to establish setting were more an annoyance than world-building after the second repetition, and certain aspects of the physical setting didn’t make sense.

Pretty by Mara Ismine

While the story was a sweet and cute remix of Beauty and the Beast, and Sri’s problem a very real one, his attraction to Vin seems more of an escape from his problem than real love. Early in the story, Vin doesn’t come across with enough complexity to be a lover as much as a dearly beloved pet, and not just because of his speech difficulties. I wasn’t convinced that Sri really cared for Vin enough to effect the transformation, although what happened afterward certainly made me laugh. Watching Sri (Beast-Vin’s truncation of an umpteen-syllable elf name) twist in the wind once he discovers the change is funny, but jarring, given the attitudes he displayed earlier.

He Shall Go to the Ball by Mara Ismine

The original material leaps out here, but with the charming twist of cross-dressing and a helpful accomplice in Cyn’s sister, who adds another layer of romance in another direction. While we can guess at how they’re going to resolve issues, the story ends very abruptly. It really is a very large jump for the prince to go from kissing someone the prince believes is a girl at the ball, with every evidence of enjoyment, to discovering he’s kissing another man, which is better than fine, without boggling at the deception. This story feels unfinished in several directions.

Greenwood by Remington Ward

This story mixes the source material, magic, a quest, and an old love together with some imagination, but the tone of the story gets very much in the way of the adventure/fairy tale feel. There’s a lot of modern slang, which is very jarring, and a preachy tone in places that really detracts from the pleasure of the read, which is already suffering from repetition. Mix in some zombies, and we have a story that’s trying to ride a lot of trends. Had I not been reading for review, this would have been a DNF.

Moth to the Flame by A.R.Jarvis

This charming mixture of royalty and ninjas was my favorite of the collection. The matrimonial prospects of the heir to the throne are at stake, which plays havoc with the budding romance between the younger prince and the apprentice ninja he somehow captured on many levels. A little bit of magic to go with the famed ninja skills helps Moth uncover the skullduggery that has affected his lover Prince Aodh, and that threatens to take over the kingdom. There’s good balance between the external threats and the romance, and that all the sex scenes were fade to black was perfect for the story. Told with light touches of humor and the addition of some wonderful master ninjas as secondary characters, this story inspires me to find more of this new-to-me author’s work.

***

As with any anthology, some stories will be stronger than others, and what doesn’t charm me may be exactly what another reader is looking for. Unfortunately, the blurb and all stories except Moth to the Flame are plagued with enough proofing errors to intrude into the reading experience, and have content issues that are enough to bounce me out of the story. I’d be delighted to have Ms. Jarvis’ story as a standalone, but the rest could benefit from more authorial and editorial love. 3 marbles

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