Choose this summer collection of short fantasy stories when you want a taste from one of your favorite authors For me, it s Raymond Benson His short, The Devil is a Gentleman, will have to do while we wait for the Fall publication of his next novel, The Black Stiletto Boondocks Fantasy attempts to infuse down home Americana with stories of trolls, elves, devils and magical creatures of all sorts Each a quick read, the shorts vary widely from simple to deep, and from obtuse to fantastical Other authors of Bookdocks Fantasy stories I enjoyed, besides Benson, were Donald J Bingle and Anita Ensal. This was a great collection of short stories There wasn t a single one I did not like, and some of them were amazing I usually donate my books after I read them, but I m keeping this one I can see myself wanting to read it again. From Vampires In The Appalachians And Leprechauns In The Smokies To Mermaids In The Mississippi And Bloodthirsty Trolls In An Alabama Trailer Park The South Makes A Unique Setting For The Stories In This Anthology Of Redneck Vampires, Werewolves, Wizards, Elves, And Other Creatures Featuring Original Stories By Gene Wolfe, Timothy Zahn, Chris Pierson, Mickey Zucker Reichert, Steven Savile, Elizabeth A Vaughan, Jay Lake, Anton Strout, And ManyIntroduction, Copyright By Jean Rabe The Giant, Copyright By Gene Wolfe Protection, Copyright By Timothy Zahn Lake People, Copyright By Chris Pierson Cat People, Copyright By Mickey Zucker Reichert The Horned Man, Copyright By Steven Savile The Feud, Copyright By Patrick McGilligan The Devil Is A Gentleman, Copyright By Raymond Benson Eternal Vigilance, Copyright By Dylan Birtolo The Taste Of Strawberry Jam, Copyright By Elizabeth A Vaughan The Storyteller, Copyright By DL Stever Being Neighborly, Copyright By Jeanne Cook Marfa, Copyright By Anton Strout Aware, Copyright By CJ Henderson Sully S Solution, Copyright By Kelly Swails Trophy Wife, Copyright By Vicki Johnson Steger Fairies Weep Not, Copyright By Linda P Baker Siren Tears, Copyright By John Lambshead Jefferson S West, Copyright By Joseph E Lake, Jr Black Rider, Copyright By Brian A Hopkins Rural Route, Copyright By Donald J Bingle Not at all what I expected or hoped for Debated between rating this one or two stars gave two because a few stories were somewhat likeable Definitely not an urban fantasy, as all stories take place in rural settings, but each has a paranormal or fantastical element A few are somewhat lighthearted, but many are dark and grim and lean toward horror I can t think of anyone I d recommend this to. Short story collections are like sample platters Great way to try several authors without commiting to a full length book After an amazingly epic read, it can be hard to get into a novel that is good but not great Or conversely after a really fluffy book, I m not always ready to jump into a potential classic Short stories are great transitional reading or for situations where one s attention span is short, like waiting in a doctor s office The writer has to create a setting, characters and narrative in only a few pages, and as such a well crafted short story can be a thing of beauty Most anthologies are hit or miss, with some gems and some lumps of rock We tend to think of fantasy set in the real world as urban fantasy, but as a small town girl, I particulary enjoyed this collection of stories with rural and small town settings Things can get just as weird or perhaps so when the power of the land is not obscured by concrete. Fun, but ultimately not very memorable. Once again, I got this for the short story by Anton Strout In this collection of short stories, the authors were asked to take mythical creatures and place them in rural settings, showing how they blend in with the normal people or hide themselves completely While not as good as Pandora s Closet, there were still some interesting reads The first story about a giant almost made me put the book down It was very abstract and that just didn t work for me It got better in the next tale with a mermaid and werewolf working together to thwart the mafia My favorite was a story about a young married couple that find unexpected trouble in the suburbs and call in a frying pan weilding momma to handle things I might have to look up books by Anita Ensal And the twist on a fisherman s tale by Vicki Johnson Steger made me laugh.For the most part, the stories are good, even interesting Several left me wanting. Being a lifelong resident of southeastern Ohio western West Virginia, I have a little familiarity with the boondocks and the title sold me on giving this book a read Truth in advertising, Boondocks Fantasy is a collection of short stories with a common element something fantastical happens in the sticks One or two of the stories I would categorize as science fiction rather than fantasy, but that s nitpicking and the stories were almost universally enjoyable.There are tales for all types within this book Stories about fairies, demon, ghosts, aliens, witches, etc The boondocks as represented in the book are spread all across the world as well, with some stories taking place in the South, the Midwest, the Southwest, Canada, and one in Europe This varied mix of settings and fantastical creatures makes this anthology a great read for fans of fantasy in a modern setting. Boondocks Fantasy sells itself, at least as per the introduction by Jean Rabe, as a change from urban fantasy in that the stories here have urban fantasy tropes but are set in a rustic setting This has me thinking of Buffy in farmer overalls stabbing vampires with a hay fork, but it turns out that the anthology is a mixed bag of fantasy stories that feel like well, fantasy stories that have been around for at least several decades now.Gene Wolfe starts out with The Giant Our protagonist is the partner of a woman, who told him disquieting stories of the woo woo kind in her rustic neighborhood He drops by one fine day, and decides to scout the neighborhood to see for himself how weird things can be Any fan of those fantasy horror anthology TV shows in the 1980s, like The Twilight Zone of which some of those episodes, interestingly enough, were based on sci fi and fantasy short stories , can tell what will happen next This one starts out like a whimsical tale, only to abruptly turn into a very dark tale towards its end The length of this story means that the mood shift is too abrupt for my liking Perhaps a few dozen pages would have allowed the tale to feel developed and whole.Timothy Zahn s Protection is like what the anthology promised a shapeshifter and a mermaid work to take down a bunch of gangsters that choose the wrong bucolic neighborhood dump to flex their muscles This one is a pleasant read, although it s not exactly memorable.Chris Pierson s Lake People sees the heroine and her girlfriend visit the girlfriend s aunt, out of concern because that woman is making wooden statuettes of elves non stop The woman claims that these statuettes are the only means of protection against the strange beings that emerge from the lake near her home Of course, the woman s niece is too modern to believe such nonsense, and I m sure you can guess what will happen during the denouement of this story This one is a well written story, it feels complete and, despite being too predictable for its own good, it s basically the first whole story in this anthology.And then we have Cat People by Mickey Zacker Reichert, which is basically the story of cat people coming to the help of the hero and his wife after an accident destroyed their farm and life savings The moral of the story is that you can screw up by not updating your insurance, but if you are nice to cats, chances are the cat people will be nice to you and help you back This story is okay, but it s something that I d file under So what Steven Savile s The Horned Man shows that winter stag men in the forests are all randy horny rapists that don t look left and right before dashing across the road Let s move on.Patrick McGilligan s The Feud is a darkly humorous tale of two families of hillbilly zombies, with one from each clan feeling that they are in their own Romeo and Juliet story It s cute while it lasts, which isn t long, unfortunately.Raymond Benson goes down the retro road with The Devil Is A Gentlemen, which is another the devil is a PI tale that sees the protagonist tracking down a serial killer in some rural trailer park area I ve read many stories like this one, and it isn t anything special to stand out in any way.Dylan Birtolo goes all solemn and gloomy in Eternal Vigilance, where our protagonist stays watch to ensure that a fiend trapped in a lake will never be set free This one isn t bad, but I can see the twist coming from a mile away The story isn t even trying to be suspenseful, the pity.Elizabeth A Vaughan tells the story of a witch who would make a good supervisor of a juvenile detention hall in The Taste Of Strawberry Jam Like the other stories that came before it, this one is readable, but once it is over and it s quickly over , it will be easily forgotten.It s the same with DL Stever s The Storyteller This one, about the protagonist reminiscing about a woman who always had a story to tell, tries and fails to build up a twist in such a way that makes it a something that even M Night Shaymalan would reject.Anita Ensal shows that even elderly women could be smug Mary Sue types as Big Mams take a trip to the city in Being Neighborly, to demonstrate boondocks folks know than everyone else and they are frankly superior in so many ways that I am actually glad to see this story end Big Mams can go choke on a turnip.Anton Strout is next with Marfa, as a city boy visiting his parents in the Texan countryside discovers that there are dangers of the spooky kind on the road, and it pays to listen to one s mother about such things This one is appropriately spooky, but it s too short to leave much of an impact.Aware by CJ Henderson wants everyone to know that television kills ignorance, which in turns create a world full of strife, and therefore, we will need the help of aliens to help us restore ourselves into a state of blissful ignorance so that our lives would be better Or something This is a long winded and rather pointless way of telling me to watch less TV, and I believe there are better examples of Alien incoming tales from those The Twilight Zone days I m especially fond of To Serve Man, which at least inserts a humorous dark twist to the whole thing Anyway, let s just keep moving.Kelly Swails s Sully s Solution has a guy in a trailer park who is not running a meth lab, but rather, a lab for concoctions that solve everyone s problems Is this the author s way of insisting that boondocks chemists have the right to run a lab without interference from the law Too bad I d have forgotten that this story exists before I can get to sign that petition.Vicki Johnson Steger tells the story of a horny hillbilly bloke who catch a fish, only to have it turn into a hot woman that he falls in love with Alas, she soon tires of him This one is also short and forgettable.Linda P Baker s Fairies Weep Not is all about saving nature from the evils of modern civilization, but this is a beautifully written tale that actually makes me feel a little choked up inside After the last few stories, this is a marvelous read.John Lambshead s Siren Tears is a delightful tale of a snobby and morally bankrupt city guy who travels to the seaside only to discover that that the tales he pooh poohs as local superstitions may be far real than he could ever imagine The tone and the unabashed lack of preachy overtones make this one my favorite story of the whole bunch.Jay Lake s Jefferson West is a historical tale featuring William Clark and Meriwether Lewis I can t get over the premise there is a gate to the Garden of Eden in the Missouri region, and the USA is, apparently, the center of all existence Okay, whatever I ll show myself out the door.Wait, there s Oh yes, Brian A Hopkins s Black Rider, which is a tale of a biker haunted by the memories of his lost beloved I had reservations when I started this one, but by the end, I find myself liking this one a lot It s actually romantic in a surreal kind of emo funk.Finally, Donald J Bingle s Rural Route is like something out of The X Files that episode with the chupacabra comes to mind mixed with the fate of the world hanging in the balance This one has an intriguing premise, but the abrupt ending ruins everything.Boondocks Fantasy has a nice selling point, but it fails to capitalize on what it claims to be, by having stories that are too short to be memorable I d have thought the authors involved would contribute stories with new twists on common urban fantasy tropes, but instead, these stories feel like watered down rehash of short stories that have been around for decades now Ultimately, the greatest failing of this anthology is its promising me innovation and freshness when it actually has none of any to offer. Boondocks FantasyThis is obviously a take on the urban fantasy trend in the market right now, taking us back to the sticks instead of into the city streets I enjoyed most of the stories in this anthology and it was good overall One story stood out above the others Brian A Hopkins Black Rider but there were plenty of good stories in here A good range of lighthearted all the way up to rather dark My favorite light story was Raymond Benson s The Devil is a Gentleman Here are my thoughts on each individual story The Giant by Gene Wolfe The opening story takes us on a walk into the woods with a man trying to understand what changed his wife so drastically when she journeyed into the woods alone as a child He s warned away from the right hand path, but of course he takes it I thought the idea behind this story was cool, but felt it needed a little bit work on the ending Protection by Timothy Zahn This story takes a shepherd who s a werewolf and mixes in the mob, who find they re WAY out of their depth when they hit the sticks This was a great story, well rounded and satisfying Lake People by Chris Pierson Here we have an eccentric elderly woman living on a lake who surrounds herself with handmade elves, dragons, and other creatures in an attempt to protect herself from the Lake People Of course, no one believes there are really Lake People, and when the number of handmade creatures verges on insanity well, it doesn t end well grin A good story, with an ending I wasn t expecting Cat People by Mickey Zucker Reichert When the barn catches fire on this farm, the only animals the owner manages to save is a cat and her litter of kittens Thinking their dreams of a quiet, rural life have ended, the couple is surprised by the way the cat thanks them A cute story with just enough alien ness to make you shiver and wonder what you d do if it happened to you The Horned Man by Steven Savile The setting here is the hinterlands near Stockholm, where a couple runs into trouble when their car hits a moose and breaks down in the middle of a vicious storm I was expecting what happens after that except that the connotations of the ending left me uncomfortable I thought attention should have been paid to the woman, her plight and her emotional state after what happens It wasn t addressed at all, and it should have been The Feud by Patrick McGilligan We get an interesting set of characters here, stereotypical backwoods hicks except they re all dead The feud between the two families is fairly standard until we hit the end, where they find some common ground to stand on Can t say much without giving away the twist at the end.The Devil Is a Gentleman by Raymond Benson This story made me smile, with one of the demons acting as a P.I in a small Texas town He only goes after the truly evil though, none of this cheating husband stuff An interesting take on the devil working in our own world Well written as well Eternal Vigilance by Dylan Birtolo Set in a swamp, we have a wizard who s captured something and is keeping it contained beneath the waters But the wizard learns he really can t let his guard down ever I liked the main character, but thought the ending was rushed The Taste of Strawberry Jam by Elizabeth A Vaughan Some inner city kids, part of a gang, stumble into trouble when they attempt to steal the wrong person s purse in this story I liked this story the ending made me smile The Storyteller by D.L Stever Here we have a pair of kids listening to the strange stories told by Old Josie Miller, one of their mother s friends The stories are standard, and it s all a set up for the twist at the end I thought it needed a little development though Being Neighborly by Anita Ensal This is sort of a reverse boondocks story, in that the people from the sticks head into the suburbs and run into a neighborhood being taken over by some nasties Some good old fashioned backwoods pluck and the use of an iron skillet bring things back under control One rather disgusting use of the skillet here, but a great story overall One question though what happened to the biscuits Marfa by Anton Strout The title refers to the name of the town in Texas where this is set, which has some interesting urban legends And that s what this story plays off of while driving, sleepy, in the dark, the main character hits something in the road we ve all heard this one before right Except it s not what you think at all A solid story from Anton here Aware by C.J Henderson This story is much tongue in cheek than the previous one, about alien abduction in the sticks and the tabloid sensationalist news reporter that investigates it An interesting twist on aliens and what will destroy our world in the long run, unless the aliens and the reporter can stop it Sully s Solution by Kelly Swails Here, a local small town cop is asked to look into Sully and what he s doing at his out of the way trailer Seems the local high school kids have been partying at his place lately The cop decides to visit and finds that Sully isn t selling what everyone in the town thinks Trophy Wife by Vicki Johnson Steger This is REAL back sticks, a lone man living on his own, hunting, fishing, and collecting trophies for his wall He s always wanted to catch that massive sturgeon in the local lake, but when he lands it it isn t quite what it seems A rather nasty twist at the end of this one Fairies Weep Not by Linda P Baker A visit to her grandparents has a young woman revisiting her childhood when she discovers the land around the house she remembers has completely changed Instead of the vibrant forest and green land, it s now been plowed under and the crops look weak, the creek dammed up, everything sickly and dying She discovers why, and then has to decide to take action Siren Tears by John Lambshead A rather arrogant man needs a break from his shady dealings at his job and the threat of getting caught , so heads into the country for a breather only to discover that there are things in the boondocks he should REALLY be worried about catching him This story was set across the pond, which was a nice change of pace and provided an interesting different kind of boondock Jefferson s West by Jay Lake This story provides an alternate history of what Lewis and Clarke might have found in the west on their epic journey A short story, but very atmospheric, which is typical of Jay Lake stories.Black Rider by Brian A Hopkins An incredibly good story about a man attempting to escape his own grief and passion after the death of a loved one Dark, atmospheric, and interesting, set in the desert of the southwest Definitely one of my favorite stories in this anthology Rural Route by Donald J Bingle A different take on cattle mutilations, written from the perspective of a farmer and an employee of the CDC who s looking to track disease vectors and ends up tracking something else instead Kind of a dark way to end the anthology, but I see why it was placed here This one starts in the boondocks and then spreads to the cities.
When I am not writing, I toss tennis balls to my cadre of dogs My house is filled with books and dogs, you can smell both when you walk in the front door It s a good smell.I have 36 published novels and am currently writing in the mystery genre My latest mystery, The Dead of Winter, was a finalist for the Clay Award and is the first in the Piper Blackwell series.I live in a tiny town in the
- 320 pages
- Boondocks Fantasy
- Jean Rabe
- 13 February 2017 Jean Rabe