Title: Myths and Magic: Legends of Love
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: M/M fantasy romance
Length: 344 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
An engaging mix of stories all based either around legends, myths or mythical beings.
Lose yourself in tales of yore, in myths, fairy tales, and legends shrouded in the mists of time. These are stories of beasts and men from ancient tomes, of gods, sorcerers, and ancient heroes, of fairies and elves, of dragons and unicorns, and almost anything you might dream. Let your imagination take the reins and experience the power of the timeless past as men in many different forms undertake the highest of quests: the search for a love of the ages.
One of the reasons I picked up this anthology, where all the stories are based around myths and legends, was because it had a few stories by my favourite authors. I’m happy to say that those stories didn’t disappoint, plus I found a few new authors whose stories were also very well written and who I shall probably look out for in the future.
In fact, all the stories were so well written that I’m finding it hard to pin down just a few of my favourites. The stories are also very varied, and if I didn’t like a story, it was more to do with the content of the story not appealing, rather than it being badly written. For example, the first story in the anthology, The 1002nd Arabian Nights Tale by Michael Gouda, was a witty, well constructed tale of a bored sultan whose new wife gambles with her life by telling a story. However, I found that the presence of the ghosts a little distracting because I’m not a great fan of ghost stories and so that one didn’t work as well for me as it would some readers. Similarly, with On Wild Wings by Connie Bailey, I found some of the story a little hard to follow and confusing, but it was still a sweeping tale with some excellent fantasy elements of dragon shifters.
My favourite of all the stories was The Wild Hunt by Cari Z., which tells the story of a young boy who becomes fascinated by the leader of the Wild Hunt during Halloween, and how this fascination colours his entire life. The author managed to skilfully interweave the Hunt mythology with the very ordinary tale of a young man who has one foot in a painful reality and another yearning for fantasy. I found it in turns exhilarating and heartbreaking and is worth the price of the anthology alone.
A second favourite would be Of Genies and Sea Monsters by Scarlet Blackwell which preceeds the Cari Z. story in the anthology and yet has an entirely different tone. This story is a humourous romp with a touch of sweet romance involving the hapless Ephram who is charged with helping a genii woo his love, in return for being sent home to his lover across the sea. I found myself laughing on a number of occasions as poor Ephram struggles to help those around him, and yet the ending was sweetly satisfying.
Usually at this point I tell you which of the rest of the stories should get honourable mentions, but really, I can’t pin any of them down. They were all very good and worth reading. If you like fairies and shifter stories then the lovely A Fairy in His Bed by Corinna Silver & Aundrea Singer and the delightful unicorn shifter story The One by Ariel Tachna will appeal to you. Fans of Heidi Cullinan will love Kissing the Dragon which takes two men with crippling self esteem and forces them to face up to their fears and each other. Those of you who love tales of gods and immortals will love the stories Night and Day by Rowan Speedwell, which uses the unusual 2nd person narrative to tell of a singer in the 1920s who gets employed by a couple of strange siblings; or The Sower and the Reaper by Helen Madden, which tells of a young man who seeks the aid of a god to help his village crops to grow; or the Judean set Something Pipeth Like a Bird by David Cheater, where a young shepherd boy becomes entangled with a djinn; or Greenleaf’s Blessing by M. King, which plays around with the legend of the Green Man; or The Flower Boy by Belinda McBride, which tells of a young man seduced by a flower seller and how it changes the course of two people’s lives. Finally, those who like dark tales of love and betrayal will love the fantasy The Light of Foreign Places by Rodello Santos & Damon Shaw, which tells of two young men whose love is the only thing that can keep them from death.
You may be thinking that there’s a lot of stories about immortals in the anthology, and I suppose they did make up the bulk of the anthology. However, each story was so different and unique, that it wasn’t until I sat down now to compare the themes that I realised that there were so many of the same theme. Each story has a different setting, time and type of immortal being that the stories never seemed samey. In fact this is one of the most varied anthologies that I’ve read for a while and has much to recommend it.
If you like tales of myths and legends and are interested in reading a variety of styles, from all out action to quiet tales of love; from serious and heartbreaking drama to laugh out loud funny, or stories from a variety of settings from the scorching desert to the cold of Halloween; from imaginative worlds to office blocks, or stories with a whole host of different characters, personalities and creatures, then I suggest that you read this anthology because you won’t be disappointed.