Monday, March 09, 2009

Bitten by Book Reviews.

I had the rather odd experience last week of dreaming that if I was to be turned into a monster, I would like to be either a vampire or a werewolf, because they are bitten on the neck before they die.

Besides showing a sad misunderstanding of werewolf physiology, and a shockingly ribald undercurrent to my dreams, this does at least speak clearly to the love/not-love relationship it is possible to have with things like biting, and book reviews.

Being a sensitive soul, I was a little droopy after reading the review of Finding Creatures & Other Stories on the Bitten By Books site last night. Then a few hours later I saw another review posted to LibraryThing. The interesting thing about these two reviews is that in part they are commenting on the same thing, with extreme opposite reactions to it. A good reminder to me, when I am assessing a book, to remember that just because it isn't working for me, that doesn't mean it isn't working. (I shouldn't have needed the reminder--Charles de Lint says the same thing in the intro to my book. Oopsies.)

Anyway, to save you, dear readers, the trouble of searching around for these reviews, I will copy them here and let you struggle to your own conclusions.

Mar 8, Review by Ricki
Finding Creatures & Other Stories by C. June Wolf
*** (out of a possible 5 tombstones)

A collection of short stories is a good way to get a feel for an author. Canadian author C. June Wolf’s writing style comes across loud and clear in Finding Creatures & Other Stories.

Finding Creatures & Other Stories is a collection of 15 short stories. While some of the stories are fantasy and some are sci-fi, a few are closer to just plain fiction. In all of them, though, the main character learns some important inner truth, but often in a bittersweet way. A lot of the stories also have origins in religions and beliefs from various parts of the world, making each unique in their own way.

Out of all of the stories, the two that I enjoyed the most were the title story, “Finding Creatures” and “Miss Lonelygenes’ Secret”. “Finding Creatures” is a heartwarming story about a lonely girl who meets an invisible horse who helps her make friends to fit in at her new school. Also ending on a positive note is “Miss Lonelygenes’ Secret,” a sci-fi tale about a matchmaker who finds a way to make her own match.

Wolf excels at poetic prose, as evidenced in every one of her stories in Finding Creatures & Other Stories. However, most of these stories, while beautiful, were hard to really get into, lacking a connection between the reader and the main characters. Also, the dismal endings of some made the whole collection somewhat of a downer. Plus, many of the stories has a post-modernist feel to them as they lack an easily identifiable climax or conclusion.

If you enjoy beautiful short stories or learning about other philosophical beliefs, C. June Wolf’s writing will appeal to you. However, for those looking for a fun paranormal read, I would suggest looking elsewhere.

(Interjection from the future: As I said, this didn't exactly make my day. But I went back today - 4 June 2009 - and discovered these wonderful comments. The last is by the owner of the Bitten By Books site. Now that's a vote of confidence. Thank you, all!), all
  1. Comment by Ursula Pflug — April 3, 2009 @ 4:50 pm

    I really enjoyed Casey’s book and so did Charles de Lint who wrote a lengthy introduction.

    I’ve reviewed it for the April Internet Review of Science Fiction.

  2. Comment by Nicole Hicks — April 9, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

    Sometimes Happy ever after endings begin to pale, I will have to look into this for those times!

  3. Comment by Rachel — April 9, 2009 @ 8:23 pm

    This is the kind of book I can really get into. I am going to have to get my copy soon. Casey is an amazing author and very kind. Good sense of humor. I enjoy some of her poetry from her site. Definitely worth checking out. You can’t really get much better of an an endorsement than Charles de Lint. :)


sandragon's review

Many of these short stories are about people faced with making choices that any one of us may come to face in our lives. The fact that the circumstances surrounding the choices are often wondrous or fantastical is beside the point. To me, these stories are about what it is to be 'human'. Each story contains characters that were very real to me in the strength of their thoughts and emotions. In these stories there is hope and compassion, people who care about what's happening around them and people making connections no matter the differences between them.

I tend to blitz through short story collections, reading one story immediately after another, so that the memory of one story bleeds into another. This time I decided to do as Charles de Lint recommended in his introduction and took breaks between each of Wolf's stories; sometimes as little as 30 minutes between stories, sometimes as much as a few weeks. I'm glad I did as I really got to savour and appreciate each story, every one of which I enjoyed, although a couple left me puzzled.

sandragon | Mar 8, 2009 |


To order Finding Creatures & Other Stories and judge for yourself, click here and choose from the many options.

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