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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Chosen: A Fantasy Collection

Kylie Quillinan, who wrote the introduction for Chosen: A Fantasy Collection said it was originally considered a genre sampler to make people aware of fantasy sub-genres they hadn't tried.  The expectation was that readers might find a new favorite.  I consider this a good attitude for authors participating in an anthology to take.   This means that I'm not expected to like every story.  I received this book from the publisher for review via Book Funnel.

                        

When I read the descriptions of the novelettes included in this collection, only one of them stood out as an unlikely contender for favorite in the anthology.  It deals with people taking refuge from dragons at a shopping mall.  I don't prefer fantasy that contains either shopping malls or dragons.   As I expected, this was the only contribution that I actively disliked.   I thought it was well-written.  People who think they would enjoy reading urban fantasy about attacking dragons might love it.   I'm just not the right reader for that particular novelette.

The contributions that I liked most had protagonists that I identified with.  It wasn't a matter of sub-genre.  I felt that these were character driven stories.   I really related to Agata and Fionn in Kylie Quillinan's fantasy romance, "Bard".   I also identified with Arabella in Alesha Escobar's historical fantasy, "Lady of the Lost Ways".

Agata, the heroine of  "Bard" didn't want to accept an arranged marriage.  Fionn, the hero of "Bard" wanted to pursue the profession that inspired him even though his brothers didn't think it was useful.  Both had a strong need for the freedom to make their own choices.  Anyone who has felt constrained can identify with these characters.

"Lady of the Lost Ways" seemed to be the most conceptually complex novelette in this anthology, but for me it centered on a paranormally gifted servant who wanted to be treated with respect by the gentry, and the other paranormally gifted characters who really saw and understood her.  As someone who believes in social equality, Victorian England's prejudices annoyed me.  I realized that the privileged characters were being portrayed with historical authenticity, but I appreciated that  author Alesha Escobar was portraying the marginalized characters sympathetically.

 So I felt engaged by half the content of this anthology which is a very good percentage.   I recommend Chosen: A Fantasy Collection to other fantasy readers.

                            

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