Do you like anthologies? Let me be more specific. Do you like twisted anthologies? Witches, retells of dark fairy tales and new ones that give something dark, this way comes a whole new meaning? Want Alice going down the looking glass look like a walk in the park? Well, dear friends, if you aren’t reading Titan’s anthologies? You have don’t have a reading life. Just go stick yourself in a corner and call it a day. You are reading wrong. You aren’t reading at all. I’m not sure what you are doing with yourself? But you aren’t living. And coming from someone who doesn’t have a life, period? Well. That is saying something. From Hex Life to Wonderland and now Cursed? Just put it on auto buy, kids. You won’t find or do better than Titan.
Power Of Editors
Two of the three are edited by Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane (Wonderland and Cursed). When you can consistently pack a line-up with the likes of M.R. Carey, L.L. McKinney and Neil Gaiman? That speaks to the editors at the helm of a project. First, it tells you that these powerhouse writers and the publisher have an enormity of trust in them. Secondly, you don’t keep bringing editors back to helm anthologies because readers see them on the shelves and run from the work. You bring them back because you know that amazing writers will work with them and that the sum of the work they pull together, will be astounding. And here’s the key. With an anthology? That is a rare thing to find.
Anthologies, at their heart? Are often inconsistent. At best, a publisher can hope there is just enough of “something for everyone.” Out of x amount of stories, everyone will be able to say they liked the majority. Even if everyone didn’t like every story, there were just enough for everyone to recommend it because there is something for everyone. But I swear that in each of the three anthologies I have had the pleasure of reviewing? Each has been incredibly consistent, in its own way.
Have I absolutely loved every, single story, in every book? That would be lying. Have not liked any story in each of the three anthologies? NO. And that is shocking. I have at the very least liked each story in each book. The only other anthology I can say that about is His Hideous Heart, Edited by Dahlia Adler (Young Adult Retelling of 13 Edgar Allen Poe Stories). Every other anthology I have ever read has been, as typical of them, hit or miss. Titan’s consistency, even more specifically, O’Regan and Kane’s consistency as editors? It is unheard of in the industry (to my knowledge, anyhow- I don’t want to sound like a scholarly expert on all things in publishing anthologies).
A Wish Is A Terrible Thing
On an overall basis, I felt it very important to bring those two pieces to the forefront of this review. It speaks strongly to both Titan’s anthologies, the editors and then specially leads into how Cursed stands-up against Wonderland and Hex Life. That is, to say, it absolutely does!
One of the things I most like about Cursed is that like Hex Life, it doesn’t just retell familiar fairy tale stories but it often does it it different genres and formats. Additionally it allowed yet another powerhouse line-up of writers trust their instincts with new stories that will not just find you in your nightmares, but disturb your daydreams, if you don’t keep up your guard. One other note that speaks to both the above section and to the variety of Cursed. Like Wonderland and Hex Life, I think O’Regan and Kane should be applauded for not forgetting to utilize not just heavy hitters but including new authors, as well. Being introduced (Ok, again authors like Lilith Saintcrow was new to me) to new authors in this format is a fantastic way to get your feet wet, so to speak.
Thank you to Titan Books for a copy of Cursed in exchange for an honest review.
Also, the cadence of the book is spot on. Much like the track list for a play list or CD (is that what they call them now??! AYE!), a great compilation of songs can fall flat if they aren’t put in the right order. O’Regan and Kan have a fantastic knack for knowing how to put stories in the right order. Cursed is pulled together in such a way that each story is very different than the one before it. With this approach, you aren’t sure what is coming next. This both keeps you guessing and doesn’t allow for you to feel like the pacing slows down. It is actually, quite the opposite, with a quick clip to it.
A Couple Standouts
I have taken a bit of a different approach with this review. Having been blessed to take this now, three anthology ride with Titan (and I do hope they continue to keep me in mind for the future- anthology and otherwise), I couldn’t help but give Cursed, but their overall contributions to anthologies in this area some praise. I still want to end it with a couple quick hits on some stand-out stories. Of course, it doesn’t take a genius to know that I loved the story I quoted on the feature image, M.R. Carey’s Henry and the Snakewood Box.
- Lilith Saintcrow’s Haza and Ghani, brings a story of two sisters hell bent on revenge
- Jane Yolen open and closes Cursed with two poems and as in the past, I love them both-
- Castle Cursed and Castle Waking, which play off each other and wrap-up the stories within coyly, perfectly
- Neil Gaiman’s Toll Bridge, is it easy to include Gaiman? Sure. But look. Before you go thinking that? Understand something. I’m going to tell you that you have no clue. You won’t believe me. Then you will read it. And when you do? I hope you think of the fact that the only thing I’m telling you is that YOU HAVE NO CLUE.
And with that, I have a feeling that at some point I’m going to have one whole shelf dedicated to Titan’s anthologies. Or at least I hope so because for them to stop would be a scourge on the publishing world.