Bad-Ass Faeries by Danielle Ackley-McPhail
Although I disapprove of the title, I still found Bad-Ass Faeries edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, to be a pretty good collection of stories. At least, that’s true if you discount the one or two stories that really boiled down to faerie porn. Which, ironically, is part of the humor in the story by Den C. Wilson, “Heart of Vengeance” (Well, elf porn, anyway). All, in all though, the collection is pretty good. It is targeted in its concept, but broad in its application. There are science fiction stories, high fantasy stories, westerns, and even a couple of noir mysteries. And yet all center on the faerie race, at least as a starting point.
Divided into five sections, these nineteen stories are short, roughly six to ten pages in length, but without the text being too small to read. The illustrations appear only at the beginning of each section, with each story’s first page sitting in frames. The frames do cause some odd sentence breaks at the end of the pages, due to the way the frame is laid out, but it is not really a problem. I disliked the illustrations throughout and on the cover. Although they were three dimensional, they looked more like an art student’s sketches than professional work. This will be a turn off to the casual reader, but I suggest reading some of the stories before judging on the basis of illustrations and cover.
Many of these stories are good, and they make the anthology worth picking up. Danielle Ackley-McPhail, the chief editor, made some good choices. All of the editors included their own stories in the collection (the others are L. Jagi Lamplighter, Lee Hillman, and Jeff Lyman) something I usually dislike editors doing. Rather than summarize all nineteen stories, I’d like to focus on a few I enjoyed.
Den C. Wilson’s “Heart of Vengeance” takes an ironic look at the types of folks who end up at science fiction and fantasy conventions. Even better, this is one of the rare few that works with faeries outside of the usual standard Celtic and or Western style fairy.
“House Arrest” by Keith R.A. DeCandido takes the traditional brownie story and turns it on its head. What happens, after all, when a house fairy doesn’t get his milk? This story had, for me, a surprising ending and I thought this to be a clever little story.
“The Last Night of the Lazarus Brothers” by C.J. Henderson was one of the noir mysteries. The ending ultimately surprised me, especially since I thought that this story was just going to be standard Christian bashing, but ended up being quite different. The answer to “who did it?” is a neat little twist.
There were two stories which I felt elevated the sexual aspect of the story from simply being an element of the story, or creating tension, to faerie porn: “Snow in July” by Jeff Lyman and “Pennidreadful” by Lorne Dixon. I think they were poor choices for inclusion, but
Bad-Ass Faeries is an eclectic and interesting collection that succeeds despite these. None of the stories is the same and several have very neat take on fairies. If you like faeries you’ll enjoy this collection, although as the title intimates, these aren’t your normal faeries.
Here’s the entire list of stories:
- “Bad-Ass Faeries” by Monica Richards
- “Image”Futuristic Cybernetic Faerie Assassin Hasballah” by Adam P. Knave
- “Make Love, Not War” by Lee C. Hillman
- “Heart of Vengeance” by Den C. Wilson
- “Ballad of the Seven Up Sprite” by Brian Koscienski & Chris Pisano
- “Snow in July” by Jeff Lyman
- “House Arrest” by Keith R.A. DeCandido
- “A Pressing Problem” by Donald W. Schank
- “Hidden in the Folds” by Jesse Harris
- “Pennidreadful” by Lorne Dixon
- “On Oberon’s Throne” by L. Jagi Lamplighter
- “Sally Smiles” by James Chambers
- “The Faerie Queen of Lo Mein” by Vincent Collins
- “Hollow Dreams” by Elaine Corvidae
- “Wings of Soul” by R. Allen Leider
- “At the Crossroads” by Danielle Ackley-McPhail
- “Down These Mean Streets a Faerie Must Go” by John Sunseri
- “ENDGAME” by Patrick Thomas
- “The Last Night of the Lazarus Brothers” by CJ Henderson
FanLit thanks John Ottinger III from Grasping for the Wind for contributing this guest review.