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onceup8200It’s that time of year again. The daffodils are out, the sun is (occasionally) shining and Carl’s Once Upon a Time challenge is with us again for the eighth (blimey) time, running from 21st March t0 21st June.

This year I’m going to attempt Quest the First, described thusly:

Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time categories. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.

I looked back at my previous attempts at this challenge and am mildly appalled at the number of books on previous lists that I have come nowhere near to starting (let alone finishing) and have come up with a mixed list of new titles and old selections and one re-read:

  • The Boy with the Cuckoo Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu – “a dark and tender fairytale spliced with devilish humour”
  • On Becoming a Fairy Godmother by Sara Maitland – “breathes new life into old legends and brings the magic of myth back into modern women’s lives”
  • Voice of our Shadow by Jonathan Carroll – “blending fairy tale, drama, magic realism and occult horror”
  • Fairest of All by Serena Valentino – a tale of the wicked queen
  • The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson – “Thor has broken the sword Tyrfing so that it cannot strike at the toots of Yggdrasil etc. – elves, trolls, ice-giants, changelings and so on

I also plan to re-read The Songs of Earth and Power by Greg Bear which I remember as hugely impressive and have always wanted to revisit.

Will be great fun.


IMG_0023All as before, this is the fifth volume of the best horror stories as selected by Ellen Datlow for the year 2012; my review of the previous volume is here.

I found this collection a little more difficult to get into than volume 4 (my thoughts on that are here), and really questioned whether some of the stories were actually horror but I may just have a very traditional, some would say old-fashioned) view of the genre.

For me the stories that stuck with me were:

  • Frontier Death Song by Laird Barron – a modern twist on the ancient tales of The Hunt
  • Magdala Amygdala by Lucy A Snyder – looks like it’s going to be zombies (again) oh, but what’s this?
  • Final Exam by Megan Arkenberg – really liked the structure of this one
  • Some Pictures in an Album by Gary McMahon – very dark
  • The House on Ashley Avenue – nice twist on a haunted house story

So not quite as satisfying as the previous volume but still worth a read.

A contribution to the 2014 Horror Reading Challenge.horrorbutton2014

Bride of the Book God

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Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

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March 2014