Title: Errantry: Strange Stories
Writer: Elizabeth Hand
Publishing House: Small Beer Press
Date of Publication: November 13th 2012
Rating: 3 stars
‘’For as far as he could, there was only night. Ghostly light seeped from a room downstairs onto the silver of lawn. Starlight touched on the endless sweep of moor, like another sea unrolling from the line of cliffs brooding above black waves and distant headlands. There was no sign of human habitation: no distant lights, no street-lamps, no cars, no ships or lighthouse beacons: nothing.’’
Shady figures, threatening atmosphere, secrets, shapeshifters, shadows. Crows, grey colours, Birds, clouds. Interesting background but this isn’t enough to create a striking collection.
The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon: A guide in the Museum of American Aviation and Aerospace wants to recreate the legendary flight of an aircraft that supposedly crashed in 1901. His motive is his love for an old flame that is about to burn out. I must admit that I was bored to tears with this story.
Near Zennor: Mainly set in Penzance, this is a wonderfully eerie story of a widower who discovers a disturbing connection in his wife’s past. Ancient stones, mysterious lights in the moor, bogs, scary children’s books, a potential child molester, a girl’s obsession, a dark past, all set in Cornwall. This story deserves to become a novel.
Hungerford Bridge: Two old friends witness a miracle one London afternoon.
The Far Shore: A magical story of a former ballet dancer who decides to spend a few days in a friend’s camp, trying to come to terms with the fact that age is suddenly upon him, and a mysterious boy. A tale of winter, birches and crows. Those who are familiar with the Finnish legend of the River of Tuoni will recognise the references. Beautiful.
‘’You do not want to make rocks angry, Justin.’’ She wasn’t kidding, either. She looked pissed off. ‘’Because rocks have a very, very long memory.’’
Winter’s Wife: A teenage boy narrates the story of a woman from Iceland who followed her husband n Maine to live in an abandoned school bus. A terrific story of Icelandic folklore, the survival of the forests, and retribution. Vala is a character you’ll remember for a long time.
Cruel Up North: A woman is wandering in a city during the early morning. Mystical and cryptic.
Summerteeth: A story of obsession, love and Art.
The Return of the Fire Witch: The adventures of a witch in a fairy tale land. I can’t say I enjoyed this story. It seemed naive and at the same time utterly incomprehensible.
Uncle Lou: A young woman narrates the story of her very special uncle, a man that adores travelling, Moroccan style and night. A tender story set in Hampstead, a beautiful example of Magical Realism done right.
Errantry: A strange mixture of a shadowy figure, action films and third-rate actors. Not for me.
So, a rather mixed result, this one. There were a few truly beautiful moments but nothing spectacular for readers who have read a humongous amount of Short Stories and Magical Realism. For me, this was not a memorable collection. Not ‘’frightening’’ and hardly ‘’haunting.’’