Friday, February 23, 2024

#Review - The Lady in Glass and Other Stories by Anne Bishop #Fantasy #Anthologies

Format: Hardcover, 480 pages
Release Date: February 27, 2024
Publisher: ACE
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fantasy / Collections & Anthologies

A magical collection of stories new and old spanning across all of Anne Bishop’s most beloved fantasy worlds.

Here, together for the first time, the shorter works of New York Times bestselling fantasy author Anne Bishop are included in one dazzling volume.

A master of bringing fantasy worlds to life, this collection showcases Bishop’s impressive range, from the rarities of her earliest writing to the Realms of the Blood, from darker fairytale retellings to the Landscapes of Ephemera, and from standalone stories of space exploration and fantastical creatures to the contemporary fantasy terrain of the World of the Others.

Includes previously published and unpublished tales, as well as two brand-new stories, written especially for this collection: “Friends and Corpses,” a murder mystery in which the corpse has some decidedly unusual qualities, and “Home for the Howlidays,” a heartwarming return to the Blood Prophet Meg Corbyn and the shapeshifting Simon Wolfgard from The Others.

Anne Bishop's The Lady in the Glass and Other Stories is a collection of over a dozen short stories, some longer than others, including some never before released short stories for this release. Two brand-new stories include Home for the Howlidays (The Others), and Friends and Corpses (unusual murder mystery). Some of the stories have not been available in decades, including tales that were released in a very limited way, or have been out of print, or were never published at all. 

This collection will allow readers to experience a wide variety of Anne's shorter works, including all her very early stories that she wants to share, as well as all the other short pieces that were published over the years, and the two new stories.

The book starts with The Lady in the Glass which was written in 1989. First published in 2am Magazine. After the Great Foolishness, she came to them when the earth shifted one day, an unremarkable occurrence in the times. Men were out hunting and discovered a woman in a glass tube. The debate rages for a long time about what to do before choosing to let her remain isolated. 

Bear Trap (2024) Published here for the first time by permission of the author. *The story is about a girl who gets caught in a Bear Trap by a hunter, later escapes, and finds her own happy ending. Not a Princess (2024) Published here for the first time by permission of the author. The story is about a woman named Matilda who decides that she is going to create a princess. Could be a recreation of Rapunzel. The Weapon (1991) First published in 2am Magazine. The story takes place during a war, maybe the Civil War? Hotting Fuggam and the Dragon (1993) First published in Figment. Tunnel (1998) Published in Horrors! 365 Scary Stories. Is there light at the end of the tunnel, or certain doom?

Part II of this collection is called The Fairy Tales. The stories include Match Girl (1995) Published in Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears. *According to the author, this is one of the darkest stories she's ever written, and I will have to agree with her. The story contains physical and sexual violence and torture. Rapunzel (1997) First published in Black Swan, White Raven. Villain origin story. The Wild Heart (1999) Published in Silver Birch, Blood Moon. Sleeping Beauty retelling. The Fairest One of All (2003) Published in Lighthouse Magazine. Snow White retelling 

Part II is a collection from the author's Black Jewels series. The stories include By the Time the Witchblood Blooms (2000) published in Treachery and Treason by Laura Anne Gilman and Jennifer Heddle. The story takes place between the end of the Daughter of the Blood and the beginning of Queen of the Darkness. The Khaldharon Run (2024) Deleted scene from Heir to the Shadows was originally published in (1999). The story takes place between sections one and two of Chapter 10. The Price (2004) Published in Powers of Detection edited by Dana Stabenow. The story takes place between the story Kaeleer's Heart in Dreams Made and Tangled Webs. 

Part III is from The Landscape of Ephemera with The Voice (2012) First published as an e-book in 2012. Part of Bridge of Dreams (2013). 

The World of the Others: Home for the Howlidays (2024) Published here for the first time in any form by the author. This is a Meg and Simon story that takes place a few months after the events in Etched in Bone. "The Dark Ship" (2022) First published in Heroic Hearts by Jim Butcher. This is a story about pirates, vampires, and Elders, and a woman who ends up bridging the gap between humans and others. 

Part IV is New Places including a story called "Friends and Corpses" (2024) Published here for the first time. If you like zombie stories, you'll enjoy this one. Cecily Blanque works for a company called Deceased Reclamation. But what happens when she discovers that her own mother and her aunt are not who they claim they are? 

Part V is A Potpourri of Stories including The Day Will Come (2001) First published shortly after 9/11/2001. Truth and Story (2005) was part of the author's Guest of Honor speech at Tylacon in Tasmania. Stands a God Within the Shadows (2008) Published in Imaginary Friends. Inspired by a piece of music and the phrase "stands a god within the shadows." She Moved Through the Fair (2012) was First published by ArmadilloCon and Fandom Association of Central Texas. This is a freaky ghost story that spans generations. A Strand in the Web (2002) First published in Orbiter, reprinted in Stranded. The story originated by a quote about humankind being one strange in the web of life. "One Earth, One Chance."


Who was she, this one who sleeps in the glass coffin? How long has she slept? She is beautiful, so beautiful. Her hair is as black as a raven and looks as soft as the clouds. Her skin is as white as the Elderman's best porcelain and unmarked by time or life; and yet her cheeks have the blush of a perfect apple, and her lips are as red as the most perfect rose. Her eyes, closed in her eternal sleep, are they blue with innocence, gray with wisdom, or dark with the mysteries of the world?

Who was she?

She came to us when the earth shifted one day, an unremarkable occurrence in our times. Some men from our village were out hunting. One moment they were walking through a narrow pass between high grassy hills, and the next they were sprawled on their backs as the earth trembled and one of the hills was sliced apart as cleanly as a sharp knife cuts through cake.

And there she was.

They could not believe what they saw. Cautiously they climbed to where she lay, testing each foothold lest their presence on the loosened earth cause a further slide that would bury them, and her. As if in a dream, they used their guns as shovels and carefully eased her from the hill.

When they returned to our village, they came not with the meat needed to fill hungry bellies but with her. Sweating and struggling, they carried her back, fearing all the time that the smallest pebble, the merest twig, would cause one of them to stumble and overbalance the load, which would surely have ended in her destruction.

The Elderman ordered them to carry her into his house to protect her from the elements, particularly the harsh, hazy sun, and everyone crowded in to look at her. Even those who had never been permitted to cross his threshold before forgot propriety as elbow jostled rib and feet were trod on in the effort to get a better look. It took but a few minutes for a fight to break out, and when the bodies thudded against the long table the Elderman's family dined on-the table on which the coffin lay-the Elderman roared his disapproval and banished all but the council of elders from his house.

Even after the door had been closed and barred and all the windows curtained, still the villagers had stood outside, whispering among themselves and wondering, wondering.

She is not like us, and yet she is. She is what we once were, before that terrible, terrible thing happened that is only called the Great Foolishness-a stupid name for that horror in the past that gnarled and bent us so and yet, miraculously, left so much untouched.

She is what we once were, tall and straight of limb; but we are all that's left of humankind. We are all that's left of Man.

We have a library in our village, a rare thing for so small a place. Books are precious. It is a week's travel to a city where they can be bought, and they are dearly priced. Still, we have a collection, a sign of communal affluence. Thrice each week, the Historian or one of his clerks stands before the assembled village and reads from one of them. It is wonderful. When I was young, I wanted to be a clerk (I never dared aspire to be Historian). I had the intellectual gifts required, but my father, who had grown tired and uncaring, thought the fields sufficient employment for me, and his second lifemate (my mother died early-not an unusual occurrence among our wemen) was more interested in advancing the standing of her own child in our village than in tending to me. But he is already gone and I am here, sitting through the night hours, keeping the lady company.

But I ramble. 'Tis a sign of age.

The Elderman tired of having the village underfoot whenever he tried to leave his house. He tired of faces trying to peer into his windows, so he ordered a viewing hall to be built where all could come and see the lady.

Day after day they came to see her. The men came and stared, hungering for her beauty. The wemen came and stared, pain and hatred in their eyes.

Every man has a duty to take a lifemate. Our survival depends upon procreation, no small thing anymore, for if the Great Foolishness deformed and twisted the men, it was even crueler to those who hold the basket of our survival.

They are so ugly. They are humped and bent, their limbs twisted and misshapen. Only their eyes are beautiful, deep and full of strange longings, half-remembered dreams. Men live with them to have a helpmate, to satisfy their bodies' needs, to hopefully produce a child.

It is a great crime among us to desert a lifemate. It is a social disgrace not to perform the marriage duty often enough for her to conceive. It is, at best, a trial for both parties. When a weman feels the need for a man's body, and usually this is only a handful of days in the course of her blood time, she informs him of his duty. On these days he is excused early from his day's work so that he is fresher, more fit to provide the seed. At least once on each of these days he lays his body down upon hers. Then, if they are lucky, her blood time will come and go, and the life within her will quicken. And if they are very lucky, they will have a child. If not . . . Even the childra, the unchild, is allowed to suck once at its mother's breast-if it has a mouth to suck with-before being given a small vial of breeleth, or dragon's breath, a sweet, deadly poison that works quickly and without pain.

So the men would come to the viewing hall from the fields and stare, drinking her in, memorizing her before hurrying to their huts and their beds to perform their duty in a darkened room.

One day, one of the wemen, having discovered that her lifemate could no longer stand to do his duty for her without gazing first upon the lady, stood in the viewing hall before a large crowd and pondered aloud what the lady's lifemate must have looked like. And they could all see him: taller than she but built just as straight, limbs muscled and whole, darker skinned than she, skin that had been gently kissed by the sun, and raven hair as full and sleek as her own. It cut them to the core, for they were no more like him than the wemen were like her.

The weman, gone mad, picked up the jagged rock she'd been hiding and hurled it at the coffin. Her lifemate, grieving for a man's body that could never be his own, threw himself in the way of the rock, protecting the lady. The rock took out one eye and opened his skull. He died that night. A few months later, the weman produced twin childra and died in the birthing.

After that, a guard was stationed in the viewing room to protect the lady as she slept.

And then, one night, the Historian ran through the streets like a man deranged and stood hopping about on the cold ground in his bare feet as he pounded the Elderman's door with his fist. The Elderman let him in, and a few minutes later, his youngest son was running to the huts of the other elders, and a council was called.

The Historian had been reading a book loaned to him by a brother historian and had come across a story about a lady much like our own, so beloved by those who knew her that when she died, they placed her in a glass coffin so that they could still look upon her beauty. And then a man came by and saw her and fell in love with her. He opened the coffin and bestowed a kiss upon her lips, and the lady woke from her long sleep and went to live with him.

A kiss!

The elders were stunned. A kiss does not bring the living back from the dead. It was nonsense. It was blasphemy. It was . . . possible?

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