The Poison Eaters and Other Stories
by Holly Black
I checked this book out of the library less because I actually wanted to read it and more because I was testing out the ability to check out kindle books. (It works! I love it! I can get books when the library is closed, when it is snowing out, and without getting dressed for the day.)
It also wound up being an interesting book of short stories. This is clearly the author experimenting with different characters and plot points. Some of them work better than others, but they’re all quite interesting. It makes me think that I need to read more of her Black’s books, because I really do think these stories were testing grounds for her books, and I want to see what she made of the more successful stories.
I thought it was pretty funny that one short story, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, is set in the same universe as the author’s book, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, but has an entirely different set of characters and plot arc. There’s a single throw-away line in the book that references the events of the short story. I really liked both the book and the short story, but I am left wondering: who does the author think is the coldest girl in Coldtown?
I’m virtually sure that The Land of Heart’s Desire is set in the same universe as Black’s Modern Faerie Tales series, using characters that I would recognize if I had read those books. And it probably would have made more sense if I had recognized them and thus knew their various backstories. I might need to go ahead and read at least one of those books to see.
I liked the short stories, The Night Market and The Coat of Stars, both of which are complete in and of themselves in a way that most of the other stories in this compilation are not. The rest tend to be character studies (Going Ironside) or plot summaries (The Dog King and The Poison Eaters) or single interludes from larger universes (Virgin). So while they’re interesting, they don’t really stand on their own. I enjoyed them, but I don’t necessarily recommend them.