Magic: An anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane. Edited by Jonathan Oliver (Solaris Books)
They gather in darkness, sharing ancient and arkane knowledge as they manipulate the very matter of reality itself. Spells and conjuration; legerdemain and prestidigitation – these are the mistresses and masters of the esoteric arts.
As a real lover of literary magic in all, shapes and forms and in, any sort of setting, I was pretty excited at, ad by, the concept of sixteen different writers all contributing stories to a single collection, a number of who I hold in very high regard. The fact that ‘Magic’ is also edited by Jonathan Oliver was also noteworthy for me too considering the incredible job he did on, and with, ‘House of Fear’, a short story collection that used the idea of the Haunted House as it’s basic framework.
The different takes on, and ideas of, magic by each author set the tone for the book as they, range from love, superstition, the dark arts to Satanic influence, and a very romantic idea that dances around whether an experience was due to magic or the onset of a mental health problem, through to some more expected and traditional ideas about the subject.
One of the problems I always tend to find with short story collections, is the often obvious quality issue, veering as it sometimes does in similar collections, between brilliant and awful, but luckily ‘Magic’ doesn’t suffer any dips in this department at all. There are some surprising stand outs though, but for me Audrey Niffenger’s ‘The Wrong Fairy’, which isn’t the sort of tale I would normally find myself so taken with as it’s very short piece looking at the last days in the life of Conan Doyle’s Father, was by far the most memorable. Understandably, each story ad how it relates to or fares against the others in this collection, will depend on personal taste buy, in my humble and honest opinion, if you’re at al interested in the subject of magic, I can’t see how you would be disappointed with everything that ‘Magic’ has to offer. It really is ‘Magic’… Gav