While being aware of Jan Edward’s considerable skills as an editor and co-publisher of Alchemy Press, I had not previously read much of her own writing. FABLES AND FABRICATIONS is a collection of fourteen short stories interspersed with poems. All of the stories have been previously published elsewhere although the haiku’s (three line poems with a 5-7-5 syllable structure) are all original.
One of the problems I often have with single author collections is that the stories often become very similar. That is most definitely not the case here. While most of the stories could be classed as fantasy (with a couple of exceptions) the stories are pleasingly varied in subject and style, ranging from light humorous pieces through to some dark and emotionally affecting tales. It is no easy task to write well over such a wide range, and is a good reflection of the author’s significant abilities and imagination. I also like the prose style which makes very effective use of similies and metaphors so that they are evocative without being cliched. Whilst every story is not equally enjoyable, I feel this is more a question of my individual taste than anything inherent to the crafting and quality of the story.
One of my favourites is the first story, “Drawing down the Moon” which looks at the high price which must be paid for communicating with the dead. I really liked the shift from the mundane setting of a seedy café to the high drama later in the story. It also amply demonstrates the author’s ability to write credible female (and male) protagonists. Other favourites include; “Midnight Twilight” about a journalist searching for a mysterious creature in the remote Arctic, which again is very atmospheric; “The Abused and Him” which is not fantasy but paints a realistic and unsettling picture of the after-effects of abuse on a victim; and “Princess Born” which is a very funny re-writing of the Princess and the Pea fairy story.
The author is clearly familiar with a lot of folklore, both British and European and plays with these themes very effectively in many of the stories, which appealed to me personally.Regarding the poetry, I am always hesitant commenting but I did enjoy the Haiku in particular as one can see the real skill in capturing an impression or emotion in very few words.
This is a collection of thoughtfully written, wide-ranging stories which I thoroughly recommend.