Fearsome Magics: The New Solaris Book of Fantasy
A warrior and his magical puppet companion cross paths with a strange church and a stranger evil. A sorcerer cheats death, only to stumble upon a possibly cursed tower. An estranged father and daughter reconnect through stage magic. A young woman is forced to choose between her magical mother and her twin sister.
Fantasy is an ever-widening genre, allowing for anything and everything with a magical element to rest comfortably under its umbrella. Unfortunately, that can lead to collections that come off more random than eclectic. Fearsome Magics has some dynamite stories between its covers — “The Dun Letter” and “Ice in the Bedroom” among them — but it never feels like a unified theme emerges. (Many of the stories do have a “dark side to magic” undertone, but hardly all of them.)
The collection starts strong and closes strong, though, running the gamut from psychological drama to coming of age tale and everything in between. Clever twists outnumber their uninspired counterparts, and Fearsome Magics lives up to its name with a few bright, chilling highlights.
K.J. Parker, Garth Nix, Frances Hardinge, Jonathan Strahan, Editor