Mythangelus: Strange, haunting stories that will draw you in

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book review Storm Constantine MythangelusMythangelus by Storm Constantine

Storm Constantine has frequently taken inspiration from the legends of the angels. Mythangelus is a collection of her angel-themed short fiction. The stories deal with issues of religion, gender, and sexuality; and are filled with lush prose:

At first light, a flock of birds known as the guardabarrancas, the guardians of the ravine, wake Silva with their tinkling song. It sounds as if a thousand wind chimes are being subtly excited by a tantalising breeze. The light, when Silva opens her eyes, is opalescent, glowing. Gold-green radiance falls in spears across her bed, shining motes held in the beams. The air is cool, caressing, and has a sparkling taste, like fern wine. Silva is caught in a transient moment of pure Earth beauty, those times when the planet unveils itself, when it does not realise it is being observed by a member of the hungry race it spawned.

Constantine‘s Grigori series was inspired by angelic lore, and as it turns out, so was her Wraeththu series. Each of these universes is represented by several stories in this collection. In addition, there are a number of standalone stories, ranging from fairy tales to urban fantasy to science fiction. Constantine provides an extra treat in the back: “Story History,” in which she talks a little bit about where each tale came from. (I love it when authors do that!)

My favorites were:

  • “The Green Calling,” the science-fiction story, which explores themes of aging and decay.
  • Urban fantasies “Return to Gehenna” and “The Oracle Lips,” both of which revolve around
    young women looking for an escape from the hellish drabness of their lives. I especially
    loved the drinks in “Return to Gehenna,” which contained emotions rather than alcohol,
    and the way the protagonist of “The Oracle Lips” inhabits a strange middle ground
    between being sympathetic and being a little creepy.
  • The fairy-tale cycle, which consists of three stories concerning Jadrin, a miller’s son who
    falls in love with a King. Note: When making bargains with supernatural beings, be careful
    about the wording!

I highly recommend this collection to fans of mythic fiction. These strange, haunting stories will draw you in, and then leave you thinking about their themes (and in some cases, their ambiguous endings) afterward.

Mythangelus — (2009) Publisher: Angels dark and light have inspired Storm Constantine throughout her writing life. In Mythangelus, all of her stories with an angelic theme, or inspired by angel mythos, are collected for the first time. This includes two Wraeththu stories, ‘By the River of If Only’ and ‘Paragenesis’ — as the Wraeththu novels were originally inspired by magical angelic legends. Included too are ‘Fireborn’, and ‘The Feet, They Dance’, pieces that were written while Storm was working on her Grigori trilogy, which are tales inspired by the myths of the Fallen Angels and the Nephilim. ‘A Change of Season’ is the short story that eventually became the opening chapters of ‘Stalking Tender Prey’, the first in the Grigori series, and ‘Heir to a Tendency’ features the lead Grigori character of Peverel Othman, years before hisfeet led him to Little Moor and the events of the first novel. From the fairy tale lore of ‘Spinning for Gold’ and ‘Living with the Angel’ to the more science fiction oriented ‘The Green Calling’, and the dark urban fantasy of ‘Return to Gehenna’, these stories are among the most sumptuous and vivid from the imagination of the celebrated Shadow Priestess of Fantasy.

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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