Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Cornucopia of Mysterious Creatures: A Review of Carnival of Cryptids

So, last week I interview several of the authors associated with the Kindle All-Stars Carnival of Cryptids anthology, but I hadn't a chance to read through t thoughts on it he entire anthology and give my thoughts on the ARC I received from a representative of the authors. For full disclosure, I am also friends with one of the authors, though I didn't know any of the others until interviewing them last week.

I always approach anthologies with trepidation. If an anthology is remotely worthwhile, it won't be filled with the same sort of story over and over. I typically expect a sort of normal distribution of story quality and interest, whether they are by one author playing around with style or a multi-author affair where the differences in stories often are even more extreme. Accordingly, I usually find a few stories I adore, a few that were okay, and a few that just plain annoyed me. Surprisingly, that didn't happen to me with this anthology.

In Carnival of Cryptids, the unifying concept of the anthology is that each story contains a cryptid in some way. A cryptid is a creature that is alleged to exist yet is not recognized to exist by the general zoological community. Although in the early days of zoology, this applied to a lot of creatures, advances in technology and science over the years have winnowed most cryptids down into a smaller group of legendary monsters. The Loch Ness Monster and Sasquatch/Bigfoot are perhaps two of the most well-known cryptids.

Given the subject matter, it would have been far too easy for the various stories to end up some sort of feeble X-Files clones where various mysterious monsters are encountered in roundabout places doing the sort of spooky-boo things that people often associate with mysterious creatures of legend. It is a testament to the imagination and quality of the anthology writers that, instead, these variety of creatures are approached in radically different types of stories. Indeed, there's no real general style, theme, or approach used. Some stories are rousing tales of action and pure-fun; others are thoughtful meditations on the nature of existence. Even style is played with rather widely, and the anthology is almost worth checking out for the various approaches to writing used alone.

Admittedly, it's hard to love every single story in an anthology, depending one's personal tastes in terms of content and style. That said, this is the first anthology I've read in a while where I didn't dislike any of the stories. I have my personal favorites, but, in general, enjoyed all the stories, albeit for different reasons.

I'll also note that though I have a particular interest in cryptids, I don't actually think that knowledge or previous exposure to the concept or creatures is necessary to enjoy the stories. In fact, several of the stories involve some pretty obscure creatures that aren't as famous as something like the Loch Ness Monsters.

So unless you positively hate the very idea of stories featuring cryptids in some manner, you should check out this anthology.

Carnival of Cryptids is available for purchase at Amazon.

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