Editor: Nicole Kimberling
Genre: GLBT Fantasy, M/M
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 Stars
Guest Reviewer: Kris
Eleven stories of magic, mystery and the fantastic future, all featuring gay heroes. Swordsmen, cyborgs, magicians, ghosts, psychic lovers and enchanted lords fill this anthology with adventure, laughter and passion.
Authors – Steven Adamson, Astrid Amara, Mark Allan Gunnells, Ginn Hale, Tenea D. Johnson, Jeremiah Job Levine, Erin MacKay, Gene Mederos, Jesse Sandoval and Lawrence Schimel.
Honesty from the outset (and what will become my standard line for anthologies)~
I have a love/hate relationship with anthologies. Love because I really enjoy the diversity of voices and styles contained within a single volume and hate because inevitably with so many stories there will be a couple I’m unable to connect with. It is always disappointing when that happens because it can colour your view of the work as a whole and perhaps even the stories which come after.
First things first~
This is not a review of all eleven stories (nine novellettes and two novellas) included in Tangle. Instead, I have selected several which resonated with me as well as a couple that didn’t hit as many of my reader’s buttons. I hope this approach will give you a ‘real’ taste of the anthology without boring you to death with my
crap prose. (You better like it cos I doing the same for the next one too! )
This is a terrific story about a young servant, who starts to work for a cruel and critical Lord with something of a foot fetish. *g* Magical boots sweeten the Lord up to kindness and love, but at what cost?! This has all the entertaining earmarks of fairy tales of old complete with gloomy, bramble covered mansions in the middle of a forest, magical garments, servants and masters, a beauty and the beast-type moral, an old crone, and an HEA; albeit a little rushed. I think this author shows what a very fine storyteller she is in Lord Ronan’s Shoes.
Feral Machines by Ginn Hale Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
In Feral Machines, Ginn Hale offers up more flawed characters to much enjoyment. This futuristic story features Andrew; one of the two last remaining inhabitants of a wildlife sanctuary, and his desperate attempts to save this habitat from the greedy powers that be. What I liked the most about this novella is the way the characters grow as the plot – paced beautifully – progresses, especially how Andrew comes to understand his actions are not as benevolent as he thinks.
Monument by Steven Adamson Rating 3.75 out of 5 Stars
This ghost story with a message won’t be to everyone’s taste (and I’ve read a couple of reviews along this vein), however I thought Monument was a good story about a horny teenager dealing with issues associated with his sexuality and his first relationship. I loved the irony in this; the contrast between the main character’s criticism of his boyfriend’s effeminate mannerisms and behaviour and his own desire for a ‘candlelight and music’ romance. God love teenage angst.
A couple of issues/warnings~
A few of the stories were very short (only a few pages long) to varying degrees of success.
Tenea D. Johnson’s Release in A Minor warrants particular mention because of the sensuality of her writing. The imagery conjured up by Clyde’s, the main character’s, trumpet playing is very lush. However, I was left feeling vaguely unsatisfied because I didn’t really learn anything substantial about Clyde. I would have liked to get to know him more in a longer story.
In The Lost Gentleman by Mark Allan Gunnells’ story, a stranded traveller becomes infatuated with a man he discovers in a nearby home. Whilst an okay read, this is a familiar ghost story, which did not offer anything really new to me as a reader and I found the ending a little contrived.
Although a couple of the stories in Tangle didn’t work for me as much as others, the majority of them did and I would suggest this anthology to those readers looking for a variety of unusual m/m fantasy tales.
BTW, I also recommend you go check out the Blind Eye Books website for some great original art associated with Tangle. I particularly like the work for Lord Ronan’s Shoes. *g*