Saturday 9 February 2019

#BookReview Black Feathers: Dark Avian Tales: An Anthology by Ellen Datlow @wwnorton @Pegasus_Books

Black Feathers: Dark Avian Tales: An Anthology by Ellen Datlow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Birds are usually loved for their beauty and their song. They symbolize freedom, eternal life, the soul.

There’s definitely a dark side to the avian. Birds of prey sometimes kill other birds (the shrike), destroy other birds’ eggs (blue jays), and even have been known to kill small animals (the kea sometimes eats live lambs). And who isn’t disgusted by birds that eat the dead—vultures awaiting their next meal as the life blood flows from the dying. One of our greatest fears is of being eaten by vultures before we’re quite dead.

Is it any wonder that with so many interpretations of the avian, that the contributors herein are eager to be transformed or influenced by them? Included in Black Feathers are those obsessed by birds of one type or another. Do they want to become birds or just take on some of the “power” of birds? The presence or absence of birds portends the future. A grieving widow takes comfort in her majestic winged neighbors, who enable her to cope with a predatory relative. An isolated society of women relies on a bird to tell their fortunes. A silent young girl and her pet bird might be the only hope a detective has of tracking down a serial killer in a tourist town. A chatty parrot makes illegal deals with the dying. A troubled man lives in isolation with only one friend for company—a jackdaw.

In each of these fictions, you will encounter the dark resonance between the human and avian. You see in yourself the savagery of a predator, the shrewd stalking of a hunter, and you are lured by birds that speak human language, that make beautiful music, that cypher numbers, and seem to have a moral center. You wade into this feathered nightmare, and brave the horror of death, trading your safety and sanity for that which we all seek—the promise of flight


16 bird stories and I'm actually thinking this was a really good anthology collection with only a couple of duds... I started to read this book a previous time, but changed to another book, and another book, etc. So, the first three stories. Well, poem and two stories did I reread.

First, we have O Terrible Bird by SANDRA KASTURI. A poem. I'm not a big fan of poems. So 2-stars because it's not badly written just not my cup of coffee.

Next story is The Obscure Bird by NICHOLAS ROYLE. Really creepy, just as creepy as the first time I read it. 4-stars

The last story I reread is The Mathematical Inevitability of Corvids by SEANAN MCGUIRE and I've forgotten how sad and brutal it was. 4-stars

Something About Birds by PAUL TREMBLAY. This story was pretty odd and I just felt that compared to the other stories I've read so far was it weaker. 3-stars

Great Blue Heron by JOYCE CAROL OATES. This story felt like an odd duck among the other stories. Good but I didn't see how it would fit in with the other stories. Until the 4-stars

The Season of the Raptors by RICHARD BOWES felt a bit rambling. Not bad, not among the best so far. Still interesting to read 3-stars

The Orphan Bird by ALISON LITTLEWOOD! I loved the twist in this story when you realize why this story belongs in this book... 4-stars

The Murmurations of Vienna Von Drome by JEFFREY FORD is not bad, I just think it lacks any good twists and has no wow factor. However, it's an interesting story and I can see it fleshed out into a movie or novel. 3-stars

Blyth's Secret by MIKE O’DRISCOLL. The first story that didn't capture my interest. When it's a horror anthology is it, of course, unavoidable that there is a lot of weirdos. However, I felt that the main character in this story just didn't work for me. Especially since a lot of people in this anthology are weird. Then, I want them to be at least memorable. 2-stars

The Fortune of Sparrows by USMAN T. MALIK. Frankly, this story didn't make much sense...or it was me that just didn't enjoy it so much. 2-stars

Pigeon from Hell by STEPHEN GRAHAM JONES, for some reason the ending made me think of Pet Sematary... Because sometimes dead is better... 3-stars

Secret of Flight by A.C. WISE...great to finally have a good story after some not as good ones...4-stars

Isobel Avens Returns to Stepney in the Spring by M. JOHN HARRISON. Sigh, and ladies and gentlemen, the first 1-star story. This story was flat out boring as hell.

A Little Bird Told Me by PAT CADIGAN. Meh. It feels like the best stories were at the beginning of the book. Or it's me that has started to get tired of bird stories

The Acid Test by LIVIA LLEWELLYN. Acid trip. 1-star

AND THE FINAL STORY IS: The Crow Palace by PRIYA SHARMA the very last story and the very best. Creepy and engrossing. LOVED IT. 5-stars

So, that's it. Not a bad collection and there are some authors here I'm going to check up what they have written. 

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!

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