A collection of stories has never caught my attention as much as this one did. The list of impressive authors on the magical cover was enough to make me want to read the book and the first couple of stories were so impressive they forced me to carry on. Of course with a collection like this there were some unimpressive stories and I have to admit to not liking a couple and even wishing I had skipped one of them. However the talent was evident in them all and I will definitely be checking out the authors other works now I have tasted a small amount of their writing here.
Before I go into a few of my carefully selected few stories to delve into I want to give a head’s up to the Introduction from the editor Jonathan Strahan. This was really interesting and was a brilliant starting point. It gave a great background to the idea of witches, the reality behind witches and where some of the legends had started. I loved that the book started life as an idea for Jonathan Strahan’s daughters and just how pleased his daughters must have been with the finished result. I loved it as much as I am sure they did!
I honestly think my favourite of the stories came at the beginning. The first seven stories blew my mind but to be honest they were from the authors I knew them most. After this I delved into the unknown and I was really happy with the selection. Each of the stories were different from the last and the individual voices of the authors came across really well. I disliked The Education of a Witch by Ellen Klages as I felt it missed an ending, or maybe I missed something within it. Another which didn’t really sit right within the book was Which Witch by Patricia A Mckillip, that was a little too strange and felt a bit disjointed for me. Of course everyone is different though and other people may love these.
Thankfully others were incredible and I loved the variation in them all. If I had to handpick a few that really stood out I would have to say Payment Due by Frances Hardinge, Garth Nix’ A Handful of Ashes, Little Gods by Holly Black and The Carved Forest by Tim Pratt all left something special behind in me. I think I was especially surprised by these because although I know of most of the authors works (the exception being Tim Pratt) I actually have read and disliked one of Holly Blacks books and when I tried to read one of Garth Nix’ novels I had to put it down and am yet to return.
I think what made these stories stand out the most was because of the commentary they give on other things in addition to the magic within the stories. All of them covered different aspects of life and I loved that and what it brought to them. For example Little Gods covered how individuals get different things from different experiences and Payment Due looked at just how much one thing can mean to someone, even if other people can’t see its value – and that value isn’t just something with a price tag.
The stories really got me in the mood for Halloween but I think they can be read at any time of year, especially if you are a fan of witches – and witches of every kind not just the cackling, hat wearing kind. As I’ve said I loved some of these stories and enjoyed most of them, I’m certain other people will too.
Under My Hat was published by Hot Key Books on October 4th. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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