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Book Review: Firebirds Soaring

Firebirds Soaring: An Anthology of Original Speculative Fiction
Edited by Sharyn November

Firebirds Soaring is a beautiful anthology of speculative fiction. As with all such anthologies, there were some stories I loved, some I liked and others I didn’t like as much, but that’s a matter of taste, not quality. Firebirds Soaring is quality through and through: from the selection of stories to the design to the decorations by Mike Dringenberg. Every story is well written, and there’s a good variety for all fans of speculative fiction: humor and darkness, Western and Eastern, medieval-type fantasy settings and futuristic worlds, and even a couple that I wouldn’t really call speculative fiction.

My favorite stories were “Egg Magic,” by Louise Marley, (loved the characterizations in this one), “Flatland,” by Kara Dalkey, (a frightening view of the future that every teen considering a white collar career today should read), “The Ghosts of Strangers,” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, (some interesting and unique elements in this one), “Fear and Loathing in Lalanna,” by Nick O’Donohoe, (I wasn’t sure I would like this one at first, but it ended up being hilarious), “Bonechewer’s Legacy,” by Clare Bell, (of course), and “Something Worth Doing,” by Elizabeth E. Wein, which I LOVED even though I think it’s more historical fiction than speculative fiction.

Each story is followed by a biographical note about the writer and a writer’s note about the story. These notes were fascinating and often provided context for deeper understanding of the story and what the author was trying to convey.

The stories intentionally sit in the gray area between YA and adult speculative fiction, and should be enjoyable to both teens and adults. A few of the stories may be too dark for some younger teens. (At least one of them was too dark for me).

Disclaimer: I have a business relationship (and subsequent friendship) with the writer of one of the stories (Clare Bell) so I’m not entirely unbiased, although I have no financial interest in this book. I have no relationship with or bias about any of the other writers or editors, and I was a fan of Clare before I ever published her latest book. (If I didn’t love her work, I wouldn’t have published it).

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