Souls for Stygia!
Souls for Heaven, souls for Hell!
I'll cop to it, I'll own up. I've been slack about reading. Heck, even when I have been reading, I've been paging through old roleplaying books. Three plot devices are to blame-- one my NaNoWriMo, which gobbled up chunks of my time. Speaking of gobbling, two-- Thanksgiving. We had two of them, one in which Jenny cooked a turkey! Three, Metroid Prime. James brought some GameCube games with him, & so my slacking off time has been devoted to shooting missiles at Space Pirates. All that aside though! I did read this. Which is a short collection of short stories. Yikes! Short short stories, too, mostly.
The two strongest contenders in it are "Under Hell, Over Heaven" & "Hero Vale." First off-- this is Margo Lanagan of Tender Morsels fame. I expected things to be fairly terrible, by which I mean bad things happening in good faerietale form, & there were definitely moments of that. The only rape was monkey rape-- & frankly, hanuman langurs are the sort of thing that make you think Dworkin might be right about heterosexual sex. There are a lot of dreamy tales in here-- queens coming out of cupboards, clay changelings in the upper east side, dead babies hidden in the forest. "Under Hell, Over Heaven" is a procedural set in Limbo; the souls who try to earn "brownie points" in Heaven's ledger by rounding up souls that have been waylaid due to clerical error. Two things going for this: one, it absolutely reminded me of Wraith: the Oblivion & that is always a good thing; two, it is full on Catholic. A lot of writers would have twisted the concept, but no, Lanagan stands by the Catholic mythology, with all the silly candles as get out of jail free cards & unbaptized babies in hell. "Hero Vale" is-- well, I called Tender Morsels a "woman's tale," & "Hero Vale" shows Lanagan can write a "boy's tale" too. Just the sight of a "hero" is enough to drive you mad...possibly mad with bravery.