*I received a free copy of this collection of stories for reviewing. All opinions expressed are my own.*
Elves and spirits to modern magicians, rural villages to city apartments, this collection of stories takes magic into a range of scenarios. As varied as the settings are the effects of magic on the characters at play in this book of short stories by Alexis Lantgen. For some, magic is a benign or even helpful force. For others, well, that’s where the titular “curses” come in.
I enjoyed the variety in these stories, and Lantgen does well to give each one a completely distinct feel. Moving from story to story we’re treated to some vivid and surprisingly detailed characters, a real strength of the collection, and completely different narrative tones. The writing is descriptive, with only the slightest tendency to slip into excessive detail at times, and the majority of the stories have very satisfying arc to them despite some being as short as 10 pages. The collection as a whole is well put together, and despite the contrast between them the stories complement each other well.
My favourite stories were the last two, and perhaps it’s not a coincidence that they were among some of the longer stories in the collection. There was more room to explore the characters and the world of the story, all of which were solidly constructed and worth spending some time with. Truth be told, I enjoyed all of the stories set in more traditional ‘fantasy’ settings the most. The stories I thought were weaker were the ones with a more modern feel, where magic wasn’t widely accepted. I felt that these struggled to have characters come to accept the role of supernatural forces in their lives, at least in a way that felt like it flowed, within the constraints of the short story format. I still enjoyed these sections, I just didn’t find them as convincing.
This was a quick read, and a highly entertaining one. If you enjoy a range of fantasy settings and types of magic, you’ll find plenty to enjoy in Saints and Curses. Find it on Amazon and check it out for yourself!