After hearing such wonderful things from my blogging friend Lynn, I simply had to get my hands on a copy of Monstrous Little Voices: New Tales from Shakespeare’s Fantasy World, a short story collection edited by David Thomas Moore. And during a particularly busy time for me, I picked this up hoping it would be a good escape when I got a free minute.
This collection is made up of five Shakespearian-inspired short stories written by Jonathan Barnes, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Emma Newman, Foz Meadows and Kate Heartfield. While each story is written by a different author with its own style, focus and characters, they are all linked by the same setting and an over arching story. The Mediterranean is being torn apart by war as every lord from Navarre to Illyria is embroiled in the fray for the throne of Tuscany. This human trouble has even boiled over into other worlds bringing witches; the fairy court; a bewitched Scottish knife; Prospero, the feared Sorcerer, and William Shakespeare himself into the fight too.
The first story, Coral Bones by Foz Meadows reunites us with Miranda from The Tempest. She has found no happiness in her new life in Ferdinand’s palace and hatches a plan with her childhood friend Ariel to escape forever. The second, The Course of True Love by Kate Heartfield sees Pomona, a witch, and Vertumnus, a fairy, united as pawns in the strife between Duke Orsino and Oberon, King of the Fairies. The third, The Unkindest Cut by Emma Newman follows Lucia de Medici as she tries to fulfil the prophecy that she will marry her cousin Francesco and together bring peace to the land, however the sorcery Prospero seems to have other ideas.
The fourth, Even in the Cannon’s Mouth by Adrian Tchaikovsky is a magical farce that brings together characters from All’s Well That Ends Well, Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, Twelfth Night and As You Like It in a disastrous mission to bring an end to the war. Then the fifth and final story, On the Twelfth Night by Jonathan Barnes sees things come to head and start to bleed over into other worlds, including one where William Shakespeare didn’t even become a playwright. Seen through the eyes of his wife Anne. I wasn’t a huge fan of the second person narrative of the last story, but otherwise I thought style, plot and characters were brilliant in all these stories.
Overall, I thought Monstrous Little Voices was a wonderful collection of stories with elements of war, romance, magic and deception, and although they were written by different, modern authors all these stories (bar the last perhaps) did feel like they could have been Shakespearian tales. This was also a perfect read to squeeze in when I had a moment or two. Great read.
Thank you to the publishers for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Have you read this? Any recommendations for other great Shakespearian inspired stories or books?