Human Tales, edited by Jennifer Brozek, is an anthology of stories revolving around a simple, yet provocative concept: what are the cautionary tales that the supernatural tell their children to warn them against humans? So many of our fairy tales illuminate how dangerous dealing with the fair folk and others of their ilk can be – how they diabolically bargain for children when a person is in dire straits, how they do not lie but neither do their words add up to the complete truth, how they’ll lead you astray or drown you in deep waters. Of course, these are all from the human perspective.
Human Tales are, to quote the back jacket of the anthology, “[t]ales of warning and terror… of those who break their vows and kill for no reason other than malice. Tales of saving the lovely princess from a prince that is much less than charming… and what it takes to bring her home, of rescuing babes from parents not fit to raise them, and the reason no supernatural can truly win a bargain with such vile creatures.”
I have a story in this anthology – “A Tithe for Homecoming,” being the life and times of a woman named Laura Jane and a grove of elm dryads. It’s set in 1950’s rural Alabama, with all the kudzu-choked highways, ingrained spirituality, and folk songs that suggests. It’s about changelings and paying for things taken and finding comfort where we may.
I hope you’ll give the anthology and my story a try – there are many excellent pieces in the collection, including a desert-bright story about sphinxes by Seanan McGuire, a disturbingly beautiful revision of Rumpelstiltskin by Ivan Ewert, the horrifying betrayal of an aquatic savior in “The Human and the Sea Sprite” by Dylan Birtolo, and others.
There have also been a couple of reviews of Human Tales within the last two weeks, with Steven Saus over at ideatrash having the following to say about “A Tithe for Homecoming”:
Dark, mysterious, and twists a few concepts together into a nice interaction of the modern world and the ancient tales. Tree spirits, changlings [sic], and revenge all fall naturally together like leaves on the forest floor. Potential trigger warnings for child abuse.
About Human Tales in general, he says:
Graded as a solid B. Some really good stories, and a lot of pretty good ones. It’s a bit uneven at times, and probably should not be read straight through. Several stories have small missteps, either because of the method of telling the story or because they don’t have enough of a punch at the end. Despite these small flaws, it’s a good anthology and worth the price of admission. A few potential triggers exist for child abuse and those who have dealt with attachment disorders.
You can read the entirety of his review here at ideatrash.
A. Rose also reviewed Human Tales earlier in the month, commenting “… the caliber of writing on the whole is above par and the concept irresistible to those of us who enjoy peeking behind the curtain of a story to see what it looks like from behind.” Find her full thoughts here at her Livejournal.
Human Tales is published by Dark Quest Books, and is available via Amazon – both in traditional print form, and as a much-discounted Kindle book. (The collection is also available via Barnes and Noble, and likely anywhere else you can order books. Pick your purveyor!)