Friday, January 31, 2014

Bull Running for Girls - by Allyson Bird - 2009 British Fantasy award winner for Best Collection

4 of 5 Stars.   Review copy

Allyson Bird is an author worth watching and worth reading.  In addition to winning the Best Collection award from the British Fantasy Society for Bull Running for Girls in 2009, her first novel, Isis Unbound, earned the Bram Stoker award for Best First Novel in 2011. Quite an auspicious start.

This collection of twenty-one stories covers a broad spectrum of speculative fiction genres, from fantasy to horror to science fiction and some that defy classification.  It all begins with "The Caul Bearer," a rather shaky story of a woman who loses her lover to the sea and the terrible thing she does to appease the deities of the sea.

Fortunately, the stories get better from here and continue to do so as each tale seems to be more enjoyable than the last.

There are ghost stories, vampire tales, witches, pirates, mermaids, real world terrors, and so much more.  Some of my favorites include one of the best shorts I've read in this, or any collection, in quite a while, "Shadow On Shadow."  "It took a long time to push, with a struggling will, to that higher part of Alice's mind where she could not tell reality from insanity--between what was imagined and the supernatural.  In her indesicion she was suffering.  That night she had tampered with doors that should not be opened, pushed the car over the cliff with herself in it, and unknowingly had unleashed something from deep within her subconscious, or another place--where dark things live, where creatures as old as time, formless but nonetheless still dangerous, dwelt."

Other favorites include "The Bone Grinder," " The Conical Witch," and a wonderful story inspired by H. G. Wells' The Island of Dr Moreau, called, "In a Pig's Ear."

One of the things I really liked about this work was the way each story was prefaced by a quote from another work which provided the inspiration for Allyson's piece.

Bull Running for Girls is available both in paperback and various e-book formats from Journalstone Publishers on their website and from

Highly recommended.

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