Beyond the Pale edited by Henry Herz

I was given an opportunity to take part in a book tour for Beyond the Pale and given the authors involved in this piece of work jumped at the chance.  I love the way the book starts out with a definition of what the phrase ‘beyond the pale’ actually means – long story short it actually means to go beyond the boundaries of safety!!  I like that.  In fact the introduction got me off to a great start.  Not to mention that cover.  Just feast your eyes on it.  It’s simply gorgeous.

The line up is as follows:

Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela by Saladin Ahmed
The Children of the Shark God by Peter S. Beagle
Misery by Heather Brewer
Shadow Children by Heather Brewer
Even Hand by Jim Butcher
Red Run by Kami Garcia
Pale Rider By Nancy Holder
Frost Child by Gillian Philip
South by Gillian Philip
A Knot of Toads by Jane Yolen
The Adventures of Lightning Merriemouse-Jones
by Nancy & Belle Holder

There is undoubtedly much to choose from here and frankly I enjoyed all the stories for very different reasons.

The opening story is a great start involving a hermit and his wife and the man who they seek help from in order to achieve their dream.  An unusual tale – prepare yourself for demons!

Then move from demons to Gods and encounter the Shark God and the results of his love affair with a mortal woman.

Misery was completely intriguing.  A compelling little number about a strange town where each year the residents are given a gift – unfortunately this doesn’t always result in happiness as Alek is about to discover – he has a bad feeling this year!

Then be prepared to cast back in time as the Shadow Children recall your childhood fears.  What does lurk in the shadows?  Are there monsters under the bed or hiding in the closet.  Maybe!  Will you check it out or are you trembling under the covers!

Even Hand is Jim Butcher’s contribution and contains a story showing a completely different side to Dresden’s nemesis Marcone.  We see something of a softer underbelly in this story although it ultimately doesn’t bode well for Harry.  Fans of the Dresden series will love this story.  I certainly did.

We then move to a story called Red Run.  This is an excellent and creepy little addition where a young girl sets out on a mission of revenge.  To avenge the death of her brother who died out on Red Run – a route that most people, sensible people, never use after sunset!  There’s always one!!!

Pale Rider is an unusual tale about tortured souls and a strange world infected and blighted by Goblin and Fae magic leaking between two worlds.

Frost Child and South are Gillian Philip’s additions to the book.  The first a prequel to the absolutely fantastic Rebel Angel series which gives a little bit more background into Lilith and Griogair and their first deathly encounter.  The second a tale of selkies.  Can Philips write?  Oh yes.  Totally evocative.  I adore her writing.  It’s dark and powerful and she can make you see the beauty of the landscape in one sentence and totally give you the chills about a character in the next.  Fans of Firebrand simply must read Frost Child and for that matter South – after all there aren’t enough stories about selkies!

I also really enjoyed A Knot of Toads by Jane Yolen which is full of superstition, people willingly refusing to see what is in front of them and witches.  I love stories of witches so this one definitely caught my fancy.  Plus the toad shadows dancing on the walls – just read it and you’ll understand!

Finally we conclude with a rather cheeky little take on Stoker’s Dracula.

All in all – an excellent collection of stories with magic, demons, gods, ghosts, witches, – and, well frankly, a pretty comprehensive grouping of the supernatural.

Now, reading this was a bit of an eye opener for me.  I’ve read a number of anthologies and readily admit that short stories are not always my thing.  I want something to sink my teeth into as a rule.  I want character development, history, world building and plot and it’s pretty difficult to attempt this in just a few pages.  So, what was the difference with Beyond the Pale.  I think two things – firstly, this is a really good collection of stories from some awesome authors.  It almost puts me in mind of bedtime tales or tales that you sit and talk about round a camp fire!  They feel like real tales that people would tell,  Urban myths!  I think the second thing, and a bit of a revelation for me, was to take my time with this story and read the stories individually over time instead of attempting to gobble them all down in one sitting.  It made me feel nostalgic reading them in that way, not because they’re anything like Red Riding Hood or Rapunzel – but more because they put me back in time to when I used to love tales being told.  Strangely, I always preferred the creepy little numbers that my gran told as opposed to the more conventional stories!  Go figure.

This is my first contribution to RIP – an event hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings.  Does this artwork look familiar *wiggles eyebrows* suggestively!  (The amazingly talented Abigail Larson who is responsible for the artwork for Beyond the Pale – strange coincidence hey!!!!)


13 Responses to “Beyond the Pale edited by Henry Herz”

  1. nrlymrtl

    So glad you enjoyed this anthology. So did I! And thanks for pointing out that Larson is the artist behind both the cover art and R.I.P. IX banner. How cool, even if a little supernaturally creepy!

    • lynnsbooks

      I know – I checked just to make sure but I thought the style looked similar.
      What a great collection (there was only one that I felt so/so about – and even that I didn’t dislike!)
      Lynn 😀

  2. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Wow, that’s a lot of great authors on that list. Are many of these “stand alone” short tales though? The authors I’m most familiar with e.g. Jim Butcher and Gillian Philip both seem to have written short stories that are part of their respective series’ worlds, and I was wondering if most are like that.

    • lynnsbooks

      Only the Butcher and Philip books – at least as far as I’m aware. There were some good little stories encompassing a lot of fantasy and myth.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Danya @ Fine Print

    Fun fact: one of my areas of specialization in history is the colonial presence of the English in Ireland, so I’m all about the Pale. I feel like this anthology and I are meant to be together now…especially since there are so many authors listed that I’ve been meaning to try! Did you like the Saladin Ahmed story? I really want to read something by him. And Jane Yolen writes about witches in this?! Sold. Witches are a no-brainer for me.

    • lynnsbooks

      The Saladin Ahmed story was very good. Very well written and quite unique. I really enjoyed the Yolen – I do love to read about witches – in fact this story could definitely have been expanded.
      It sounds like this book would be perfect for you!
      Lynn 😀

  4. Delia (Postcards from Asia)

    I thought that cover looked familiar. I must have seen it on Abigail’s website. Gorgeous!
    I must look for this anthology. You make it sound soooo gooood!

    • lynnsbooks

      I actually really liked it – it’s a great collection of authors. I don’t usually ‘love’ short stories but this one I read slowly just picking it up every now and again. For me, loving Philip and Butcher it was worth picking up for their stories alone.
      That cover is lovely.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Tabitha (Not Yet Read)

    I do love her creepy artwork and yes that does look like a great collection from some fabulous authors. I’m totally into shorts when I’m in the mood I’ll have to consider this one then! (Once I finish the 4 or 5 I’m slowly working through LOL)

    • lynnsbooks

      I thought it was a good collection and apparently another story by Rachel Caine has now been added so I must check that one out.
      Lynn 😀

  6. Debi

    Wonderful review! And that is exactly how I have to read short stories–one at a time. Same with essays and poetry. If I try to read through a whole collection at once I find I never appreciate the individual works in the same way.

    • lynnsbooks

      It’s true! In the past I’ve always picked up anthologies with the same mindset as I would for a regular novel and tried to read them all in one go – this time was a much better experienced for me. Could be that they were all writers I enjoy? Difficult to say I suppose but it was just better.
      Lynn 😀

  7. Guest post: Henry L Herz | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] For further reading check out this, this, this, this, or maybe even this. […]

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