Monday, May 21, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Scarlet Whispers--Charity Anthology about Horses

Book Title:       Scarlet Whispers
Author:             Various, Edited by Jo-Anne Russell and Allen Jacoby
Publisher:          Scarlet River Press      

“Scarlet Whispers” is the first anthology from Scarlet River Press, and Editors Jo-Anne Russell and Allen Jacoby—its theme is horses. Though not all of the tales are horror, several do have a speculative fiction aspect or dark theme. All around, the sixteen stories and one poem showcase some fine writing.

This book is also a vehicle to raise funds for Hilltop Haven Equine Rescue. From their website: “It is our mission to rescue and rehabilitate abandoned, abused, neglected and unwanted horses as well as other animals, to find suitable homes for adoptable horses and to provide care and a safe haven to any animal in need.” 

The anthology opens with a haunting poem “The Horseman” by Marge Simon about a horse that comes to the aid of a wounded soldier. The poem sets an appropriate mood for the varied tales that follow. The editors have chosen an excellent variety on the central theme—we get real horses in everyday slices of life, horses of myth and legend, and even tales from the POV of horses.

“Silas,” by K. Brooks is a wonderful example of the classic tradition of horse/master relationship tale that speaks to the intelligence and loyalty of the species. Rick Benford’s “Stormy Days” is a poignant tale of how a horse sees the narrator through a time of loss. “Of Bucket and Water” is a similar kind of tale but distinguished by author C.S. Nelson’s skilled use of a child’s POV and voice.

Some nice fantasy tales are included. “The Tale of the Lucky Lock” by Donna Marie West is a fairy tale in the truest sense, complete with a moral about cherishing horses. Robert Thistle’s “A Dark Redemption” uses poetic prose and Native American legend to fine effect, while Teg Carys’ “Glass Slippers Shatter” riffs on “Cinderella” and includes a nice dark twist. “Curso and the Lady Equestrian” by Roy C. Booth & Brian Woods brings to the collection a feel of epic fantasy in a delightful tale of a young man unaware of his important legacy.

In a darker tale, “The Kelpie” by H.L Yates is a supernatural mystery involving the titular figure of Celtic mythology. This concise but complete case is, according to the author’s bio, part of series featuring its heroine, and I would be interested in reading more about her.

Jo-Anne Russell’s own contribution “Moon Dance” is left open to interpretation but whether or not the supernatural is responsible for the plight of the titular horse, it is disturbing nonetheless, a finely crafted tale indeed.

Overall, this is a well constructed anthology with something to offer any speculative fiction reader and certainly of interest to horse lovers.

For purchase links and more information about Scarlett River Press, follow this link:

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