October 18, 2013

Review: Very Superstitious: Myths, Legends, and Tales of Superstition

Very Superstitious Second Annual Month9Books Charity Anthology
Proceeds for first 5,000 sales go to SPCA Internation
Edited by Georgia McBride
Stories by Shannon Delany, Jackie Morse Kessler, Jennifer Knight, Stephanie Kuehnert, Mari Mancusi, Michelle E. Reed, Dianne K. Salerni, Pab Sungenis
Available now from Month9Books
Review copy

VERY SUPERSTITIOUS contains an excellent lineup of authors, which is what first caught my attention.  I was particularly excited to see a story by Stephanie Kuehnert, who hasn't had a fiction release since 2009's wicked good BALLADS OF SUBURBIA.  (Bonus: I got to interview her!)  Plus, it's a charity anthology!  How could I resist spreading the word about a book that helps animals?  I have a rescue dog, and he's the best ever.  (Okay, Patton is my mom's, but I'd steal him in a heartbeat.)

I wish the theme of VERY SUPERSTITIOUS were slightly more coherent.  Some of the stories involve animals, some don't.  Some are mythology, some folklore, some the Bible, some urban legends, some children's stories, you get the idea.  With only eight stories, so many different sources means stories with very different feels.  I like that they aren't all the same of course, but I wish there was more of a thread holding them together than "superstition."  (And sometimes that thread is very light indeed.)

I also wish that more of the sources were non-Western.   "Chupacabra" by Jennifer Knight draws on the Central American legend and is set in Puerto Rico, and was one of my favorites in the anthology.  It's a tale of revenge, hard choices, and the way human emotions can create the worst monsters.  It felt like a small piece of a larger world, which I appreciated.  "Midhalla" by Michelle E. Reed draws on Egyptian mythology, so it doesn't make much sense to have a title punning on Norse mythology.  [Edit: Reed contacted me about the title and said, "Midhalla is the Arabic word for umbrella, which is why I chose it for my story."] It was probably my least favorite story in the anthology.  It's core is extremely goofy, and the end is dark and sudden, jarring completely with the setup at the beginning of the story.  It never coheres.

I think most of these stories are one offs, which is nice.  "Thirst" by Jackie Morse Kessler does tie into her Riders of the Apocalypse series, but given that it's a retelling of Noah and the flood, it's easy to follow even without knowledge of that series.  I enjoyed it, as well as the stories from Shannon Delany, Stephanie Kuehnert, and Dianne K. Salerni.  And props to Delany's kids, who convinced her to change the story's traditional ending.  VERY SUPERSTITIOUS contains many unhappy endings, but at least it contains no unhappy ending for animals. Mari Mancusi's story plays with "The Gift of the Magi," a story that's been played with so much that it would take something really clever to get me excited about it.  Not bad, but standard.  Pab Sungenis's "The Silverfoot Heretic" played with The Wizard of Oz.  I thought the story went somewhere interesting, and touching, but I almost didn't finish the story because the beginning didn't capture me at all.

VERY SUPERSTITIOUS is a fine anthology for fantasy readers looking for something slightly creepy for Halloween reading.  I didn't love all of the stories, but there are some good ones by popular authors.  If you're a fan of any of these ladies, I'd pick it up.  Plus, you're helping out animals!  It's hard to resist books and animals, isn't it?


  1. It's very hard to say no to a book that helps out animals. How exciting! I'm trying to read more "Halloween-esque" things at the moment, so this works.

  2. I do like anthologies, so I may request that my library acquire this title and then check it out. Short stories for the win!

    1. Go for it! (And if your library worries about it being from a small publisher, the volume was well edited.)

  3. I love the idea of it, for charity and so forth, and the author list sounds good. Not sure the stories are for me but otherwise, very good!

    1. You might ask your library to order it - there might be someone in your community who would like it!


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