Friday, 25 February 2011

Animythical Tales by Sarah Totton (Book Review)

From the back cover:

“In this elegant volume, award-winning author Sarah Totton takes her readers on speculative journeys of the heart and mind that will both challenge and engage you. Within these tales, readers will learn the meaning of darkness and pain and fear. Yet they will also learn about love and happiness and laughter. Sarah Totton explores the full kaleidoscope of the human heart and peels is back, one layer at a time. She offers her readers a full palette of emotions and stories to sift through, never settling, never holding back, and never flinching. Whether she is writing about the loss of innocence through dark revelations, the point to which a human mind can be stretched before succumbing the magic of faerie, or something a s preposterous as cloud-fishing in a work with pink yaks, the stores in Animythical Tales are always told with an eye toward revealing something important about the human condition. If you have ever yearned to fall into fabulous adventures in unforgettable worlds, Animythical Tales is the collection for you.”

This book begins with an impressive introduction by Forrest Aguirre. Ms Totton has an eloquent writing style to take the reader on magical journeys of fantasy laced with horror elements in an everyday setting. The majority of the stories are sea based, and all of them reveal a nice attention to detail.

A Fish Story

First appeared in Realms of Fantasy Magazine, October 2006.
Reprinted in Fantasy: the Best of the Year: 2007.

About a young woman who desires a man not interested in her.

The Man with the Seahorse Head

Published in Commonwealth Short Stories CD 2007-2008.
Regional Winner for Canada & the Caribbean of the
Commonwealth Short Story Competition

A man raising his children with care before setting them free into the sea.

Flatrock Sunners

Appeared in Black Static #12

Missing the companionship of his father, a teenage boy reminisces about their times together and his father’s explanation about the Flatrock Sunners: a group of ghosts.

Pelly Medley

A scientist counting seabirds on an island acquires a mysterious box from a souvenir shop that reacquaints him with his childhood friends.

Bluecoat Jack

Published in TEXT: UR-The New Book of Masks, 2007.
Honourbale Mention, Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, 2008

A warped tale of using peoples’ memories for artistic purposes.

A Sip from the Cup of Enlightenment

To be published in Polyphony 7

This was a lovely fantasy with dark elements of a teacher at a school whose divinity was based on the sayings of oracles about prophets and dragons. He discovers a skeleton with red hands in a closed off portion of the school, and discovers the consequences after stealing one of the bones.

Choke Point

First published in Fantasy Magazine, December 2009

A wonderful tension packed story with a nice twist at the end. A scientist researcher prepares to move into the city for his love, Rebecca. There are excellent descriptive details of background combined with a naturalist’s viewpoint.

The Bone Fisher’s Apprentice

First published in Writers of the Future, Volume XXIi.
Honourable Mention, Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, 2007.

The apprentice was discovered as a foundling by the Bone Fisher, a spinner of dreams. Yearning to discover her connection to humans, she meets a beach scavenger, Bellan, and teaches him one of the Bone Fisher’s secrets.

A Little Tea and Personal Magnetism

In a hilarious parody, an aspiring writer, George Y. Whynot, demonstrates his lion taming skills.

The Teasewater Five

Published in The Nine Muses, 2005.
Honourable Mention, Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, 2006.

After having a stillborn birth, an artistic woman, create a series of perfect miniature figurines: animals, a bird and a boy. Her equally talented brother animates them including the ability to speak by infusing a bit of his soul. This with a very creepy ending.

The review copy was provided by Sarah Totton. Ms Totton is a licensed veterinarian in Ontario, a former wildlife biologist, and recently earned her doctorate in epidemiology.

Book format: paperback, 124 pages
Publisher: Fantastic Books
Author website: Sarah Totton
Available: March 2010


David Cranmer said...

All sound interesting but The Teasewater Five sounds very intriguing. I'm exploring something along those lines myself.

Leah J. Utas said...

They sound fascinating.

Barbara Martin said...

David, all the stories have a unique slant on the human psyche.

Leah, I found most of the stories helped my own writer's muse.

Charles Gramlich said...

Love that cover. 5th try at the captcha phrase