Many thanks to Subterranean Press and NetGalley for the ARC! This book will be released on September 30 2020.
My Rating: 3 stars
Edited By is a fantasy and horror anthology compiled from previous works Ellen Datlow has edited. I had never heard of Datlow before picking up this book, but I loved the idea of celebrating an editor in the industry. I feel that editors in general are kind of ignored in the reading world when they do some of the most important work. Readers get to learn about Datlow in the introduction by Gary K. Wolfe and in an interview with her written by Gwenda Bond. I also loved reading Datlow’s blurbs after each short story, which explained where and why she originally published it. I felt I got to know her a little even from those short sections. I’m so glad I now know about Datlow and I intend to check out some of her other anthologies.
The collection itself contains thirty stories that almost fully cover the vast range of the genres. This is probably what surprised me the most about the book. I’m used to anthologies that focus on a particular audience or a specific subgenre. This collections has some of everything. There are stories geared toward adult, YA, and middle grade readers. There is urban fantasy, more traditional fantasy, fairy tale retellings (my favorite!), sci-fi, Lovecraftian horror, erotica, literally everything. I think that most any fantasy and horror reader will able to find at least one story they love in here. However, this big range does mean that it’s unlikely a reader will enjoy every story, which is a problem I ran into it.
Short story collections are often a mixed bag for me, and that was the case here. However, there were several that I really loved. As I mentioned, there were several fairy tale retellings, and two of them were my absolute favorite stories in the collection. “Precious” by Nalo Hopkinson is a retelling of “Diamonds and Toads,” which I was so happy to find. It’s not a tale that gets retold often, and I loved Hopkinson’s take on it. She focuses on what happens after the main character is enchanted to have money and jewels come out of her mouth when she speaks. Catherynne M. Valente’s “A Delicate Architecture” is a retelling of “Hansel and Gretel” that tells the backstory of the witch. Valente writes in a beautiful fairy tale style, and the fact that it was a retelling took me by surprise. It doesn’t become clear until the end. Other standout stories were “The Crow Palace” by Priya Sharma, “Bird Count” by Jane Yolen,” and “The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change” by Kij Johnson. That last one in particular was haunting. It’s one that will really make the reader think about how humans treat animals.
Unfortunately, other than these few stories, I was fairly indifferent to the rest. I was a little disappointed with the Neil Gaiman story. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by him before, but this one is styled as a screenplay, which I just found tedious. There were several stories that I just skimmed through. It’s not that any of the stories were bad; a lot of them just didn’t interest me when I read the first few pages. However, I’m sure that plenty of other people will enjoy the ones that weren’t my thing.
Overall, Edited By is a collection that holds something for everyone and is a wonderful celebration of an important editor in the world of fantasy and horror literature. Even though not all of the stories were for me, I found some great stories and new authors I want to check out.