Today I'm playing host to a stop on the blog tour for the new fantasy anthology from Xchyler Publishing, The Toll of Another Bell, releasing Jan 31st. I got a review of the book for you, a blurb, a look at the full cover graphic, a giveaway, plus the trailer. And be sure to join the authors on Facebook, Saturday Jan. 31st, for the launch party. Now read on and enjoy...
The Toll of Another Bell
A collection of out-of-this-world short stories that ring true in mortal hearts.
Awareness: To achieve the status of Magi, Jyn must pass his father’s ultimate test.
Phoenix: Orion loses his wife on their wedding day and uses dark magic to seek her in the afterlife.
Life Under Research Conditions: Can a bioweapon possess a soul and make choices to save humanity?
The Year of No Foals: A miraculous colt and a mysterious old man bring healing to a family ripped apart by tragedy.
Naoki No Yokai: Yokai have overrun a local village, and it’s up to Saga Naoki to discover the reason why.
Jilted River: An Appalachian fairy tale attracts visitors to a state park, but then they start to disappear.
Tower Gods: A thirteen-year-old boy with an oxygen mask befits the role of hero in Watcher Benson’s eyes.
Reality As We Know It: Where otherworldly magic fails, is Row’s friendship enough to mend Singer’s grieving heart?
60 Seconds to Midnight: Fleeing an ancient evil, a young woman from amongst the stars finds unlikely refuge on Earth.
The Toll of Another Bell: A Fantasy Anthology
The Toll of Another Bell is a bit of a fantasy mash-up, if an entertaining one, its magic and mayhem swirled with a bit of sci-fi and a dash of historical imaginings. It veers through a wide speculative spectrum, casting forth myths, enchantments, magic, strange creatures, and mad science in its wake.
Here are some quick thoughts on each of the stories.
Breath: This story is soft and subtle, with a seamless blend of character and parable. The setting and fantasy world is rich and creative, a delicate fabric that perfectly suits the story.
Awareness: The beginning of this story was a bit tangled for me as I tried to decipher my way through the opening puzzle motif, but once my brain clued in, I found the story captivating. The narrative had a tense precision to it without losing its mystical undertone of fantasy and surrealism. And I loved the ending.
Phoenix: An excellent modern re-imaging of the Orpheus myth. The tragic quest, the juxtaposition of the contemporary world against mythology was all woven together in an well-crafted tapestry.
Life Under Research Conditions: This story leans more heavily into the sci-fi realm than fantasy, but it was a kick-ass story regardless. The first-person narration, from the point of view of the traditional “monster”, lent the story a different, sympathetic intimacy I enjoyed.
The Year of No Foals: This tale is the star of the book, with a charming, cozy allure that draws you in and never lets you go until the end. It has a sense of wonder and hope, built atop an undercurrent of heartbreak, and melds the fantasy seamlessly into the story.
Naoki No Yokai: This story was light on the fantasy elements, but I enjoyed its historical, slightly off-kilter world, and the mystery that unravelled. I did have a minor quibble, however. There were a few clever, modern in-jokes that peppered the story. While amusing and witty, they pulled me out of the narrative and marred the flow of the story for me.
Jilted River: Another quiet story, but one with much clout. It was a lovely blending of folktale, superstition, and family ties to create a beguiling narrative.
Tower Gods: This one reminded me a bit of an old fashioned boy’s adventure story, complete with giant robots and mystical mentors.
Reality As We Know It: This story was a very entertaining tale that twists the fantasy element a bit, turning the fantasy creatures into regular people, instead of the other way around. It has a spectacular voice and set of characters, and a sweet tone.
60 Seconds to Midnight: I found this one a engaging yarn with sci-fi and Lovecraftian overtones. The ending was a bit open-ended, though. I love to see a sequel to the story, or to have the tale expanded into a book.
Overall though, the book is a great read and I recommend it.