C is for Chimera by Rhonda Parrish, editor

C is for Chimera by Rhonda Parrish, editor
Publisher: Poise and Pen Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror, Historical, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (259 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

This installment of Rhonda Parrish’s alphabet anthology series asks skilled storytellers to write around the theme of chimera. The resulting tales are part fable, part poem, part dream. But like any chimera, the parts make up a greater whole.

Blend reality with fantasy. Mesh science fiction with mystery. Mix history with what should have been. They are all chimera.

A shadow tells a tale of schoolyard bullies. A long-vanished monster returns from the cold dark. Make-up makes up a life. Alchemy, Atlantis, and apocalypse. These 26 tales bring both chaos and closure to dark and elusively fantastic geographies.
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Contributing authors include:

~ Alexandra Seidel ~ KV Taylor ~ Marge Simon ~ Pete Aldin ~ Michael M. Jones ~ Simon Kewin ~ BD Wilson ~ Gabrielle Harbowy ~ Sara Cleto ~ Megan Engelhardt ~ Michael Fosburg ~ Megan Arkenberg ~ Lilah Wild ~ Laura VanArendonk Baugh ~ Milo James Fowler ~ Brittany Warman ~ Michael B. Tager ~ L.S. Johnson ~ Beth Cato ~ C.S. MacCath ~ Sammantha Kymmell-Harvey ~ Steve Bornstein ~ Suzanne van Rooyen ~ Michael Kellar ~ Jonathan C. Parrish ~ Amanda C. Davis ~

These chimeras came in every shape and size I could imagine and even a few I never would have dreamed of.

The main character in Michael M. Jones’ “E” was a spirit who was trapped in a high school after losing her own body. At first she spent her time shadowing the students there, but she soon found herself drawn to a lonely girl named Madeline. There weren’t many clues about what was going on, but the ones that were provided were irresistibly fascinating. I also loved how clearly the spirit’s personality was described. Even though I had no idea what she looked like, I could still picture her in my mind because of how much I knew about her habits, interests, and flaws. While I would have loved to know what happened after the final scene, this did work really well as a short story.

What originally attracted me to this collection was the thought of reading so many tales about chimeras. I was curious to see how twenty-six different writers would approach the same idea, and in many cases their twists on the topic were incredibly creative and memorable. With that being said, this anthology was uneven in places. Milo James Fowler’s “O” was one of the stories that could have used more polishing. The plot showed what happened when the surrounding community discovered what Dr. Horstmann had been experimenting with in his spare time. While I was intrigued by the premise, everything happened so quickly that I had trouble figuring out what it was the doctor had been doing or why the people who lived nearby were so alarmed by his work. There simply wasn’t enough time to explore the storyline the way it needed to be explored.

Megan Arkenberg’s “L” grabbed my attention when the narrator confessed to murder before the end of the first sentence. Immediately I wanted to know more about who the main character was and why she’d killed someone. It was the last thing I would have expected to encounter in a quiet, rural, nineteenth-century setting. Figuring out what was happening only made me curious to learn more, although I can’t say anything else about the plot without giving away spoilers. Like “E,” this could have easily been expanded into something full length. The fact that I’m so eager to know what happened next for both of them is a sign of how well written they were.

I’d recommend C is for Chimera to anyone who enjoys smart science fiction anthologies.

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