Clockwork, Curses, and Coal: Steampunk and Gaslamp Fairy Tales by Rhonda Parrish (editor)

Clockwork, Curses, and Coal: Steampunk and Gaslamp Fairy Tales by Rhonda Parrish (editor)
Publisher: World Weaver Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Action/Adventure, Historical
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

​Fairies threaten the world of artifice and technology, forcing the royal family to solve a riddle to stop their world from irrevocable change; a dishonest merchant uses automatons as vessels for his secrets and lies; a woman discovers the secret of three princesses whose shoes get scuffed while they sleep. These and so many other steampunk and gaslamp fairy tales await within the pages of Clockwork, Curses and Coal.

Retellings of Hansel and Gretel, The Princess and the Pea, Pinocchio, The Twelve Dancing Princesses and more are all showcased alongside some original fairy tale-like stories. Featuring stories by Melissa Bobe, Adam Brekenridge, Beth Cato, MLD Curelas, Joseph Halden, Reese Hogan, Diana Hurlburt, Christina Johnson, Alethea Kontis, Lex T. Lindsay, Wendy Nikel, Brian Trent, Laura VanArendonk Baugh and Sarah Van Goethem.

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In “A Future of Towers Made,” Zela was trapped in an abusive marriage. Her only avenue for possible escape involved trying to prove her husband had stolen credit for her latest invention, and success was anything but certain for her. I emotionally bonded with her immediately and eagerly kept reading to find out if she’d be freed from the many years of pain he’d put her through. She was such an intelligent and brave character.

Amber needed to bring her cat, Hunter, and as many people from her town as she could persuade to come alone with her on a daring trip to escape their dying planet in “Father Worm.” I was fascinated by how she figured out that their world would soon become too cold to sustain life and looked forward to discovering if her plan to save those who wanted to be saved would be successful. She had so much riding on every decision she made, and she only had a short amount of time to accomplish it all.

The plague that settled upon a small town in “Necromancy” was one of the most unique ones I’ve ever heard of. It was brought to that community by a young woman named Natalie who had gone away to seek her fortune. I was as fascinated by the unusual symptoms of it as it was by how her mother, neighbours, and former friends reacted to the sudden changes in her. This was one of those tales that only grew better with each plot twist, none of which I dare divulge today.

Clockwork, Curses, and Coal accomplished something pretty special. For the first time in all of my years of reading, I adored every single story in an anthology. I hope other readers love them just as much as I did.

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