Disclaimer: One of the book’s authors provided me with a code to download a free version of this book in exchange for an honest review.
A Convergence of Worlds: An Anthology of Fantasy Short Stories is a fun and quick read. It contains four short stories, each by a different author, which fit snugly in the fantasy genre. Each story occupies a slightly different niche within the fantasy genre—some being more fairytale and others being a bit more high-fantasy or dark fantasy. Similarly, each story has a very different tone and feel from its book-mates. The variety keeps the anthology feeling fresh and leaves each story memorable in its own way.
However, a rather large issue in the stories’ variance is their formatting. In the version I read (.mobi file obtained from Smashwords), the stories are not formatted in the same font size or style, which can make reading them difficult. Likewise, there are no paragraph indentations (nor blank lines between paragraphs) to provide any distinction between paragraphs, which also makes reading a challenge. On a brighter note, I found the cover gorgeous.
Story One: “An Evening with Luke and His Fairy Godmother”
This story begins from a unique perspective—Luke visiting his mother, a reporter, as she interviews a mermaid. The newsroom setting provides an overview of the various magical creatures in the story’s world as well as gives the reader a sense of time and place. However, after the newsroom scene, the story begins to jump around unexpectedly. Luke’s fairy godmother shows up out of thin air (admittedly, as fairy godmothers tend to do), and they go on an adventure.
Unfortunately, the adventure is glossed over and Luke and his fairy godmother flit from scene to scene with far too many details crammed into a small amount of text for the reader to fully comprehend what is happening. The story would really benefit from being fleshed out into a longer piece with more space for explanation and less summary. The characters speed through the story, and a definable plot line is established toward the end.
The conclusion of the story is sweet and satisfying. It puts a new spin on a fantasy figure from childhood. I wish the story would have expanded more on this character and his transformation, because that part is truly imaginative and worth exploring. Overall, “An Evening with Luke and His Fairy Godmother” is fun with a gem of an ending, but the reader definitely must pay close attention to keep up with the pacing.
Story Two: “The Last Campfire”
Of the stories, this one was the darkest. It is set in a fictional world and describes soldiers on a night before battle. The story unfolds at a steady pace, providing the reader with information about the setting and characters on an as-needed basis. It is difficult to comment on the plot without revealing spoilers, so I will simply say that the story is mythological, mysterious, and compelling. It keeps the reader guessing until the end, at which time the reveal is satisfying and creative. This story is the most well-written and complete of the four.
Story Three: “What Happens at the Ball Stays at the Ball”
This story is by far the funniest of the group. In essence, it is a gender-bender of Cinderella, where a male peasant goes to a ball with the help of his fairy godfather and pursues a princess. The story is charming and a fresh take on an old fairy tale. The only aspect about the story that threw me for a loop was that the fairy godfather is a Greenbay fan. While I appreciate the Packers nod, the rest of the story seems to take place in a world that would not contain football, either because the sport would not exist at all or would not yet be invented. Beyond this minor detail, the story is a consistent, fun read that made me laugh out loud multiple times.
Story Four: “The Veil”
To be fair, I feel that I must say I felt a little out of my depth with this story. Of the four, it was the most “high-fantasy,” with creatures with which I am not at all familiar. However, much like the first story in the anthology, this story jumps around from scene to scene rather quickly. The plot of this story is clearer from the beginning, but the characteristics of the magical creatures and “rules” of the world, so-to-speak, are very unclear. Perhaps regular fantasy readers would be more familiar with Veils and Dryads, but I was not, and the story seemed to assume that the reader would not require much explanation.
From a writing standpoint, I had two main issues with this story. First, the gender pronouns used for the protagonist, Wren, kept alternating between male and female, which made it difficult to understand when she was acting or when another character was acting. Second, the dialogue felt a little flat, and like the narration, did not provide enough information for the reader to truly feel like a part of the story.
Overall, this story is definitely inventive, and I appreciated the darker tone and more serious themes it addressed. However, as with the first story in the anthology, I believe it should be expanded on to give the reader time to orientate him/herself in the world, get to know the characters, and pick up on the subtler nuances of the plot.
A Convergence of Worlds has earned a three star ranking from me, because I think it has a lot of potential. Each story is creative and unique, and they complement each other well as a collection. With a re-formatting of the text and a bit more clarity and “in-scene” writing from the first and last stories, I think this could be a truly strong collection that encompasses several of the lively sub-genres of fantasy.
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