Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
I stumbled upon the Uncollected Anthology series (UA) while looking through the work of an author not featured in this post. This is what I got from the website, a group of paranormal/ urban fantasy writers got together picked a theme, invites another author as guest and write short stories. Instead of placing all the stories in one volume. Each story can be acquired seperated. All stories are under the UA logo. There might be more people in on this thing than the writers but it is their names and faces that are the front for the project. I like the concept of the project. It gives a freedom to the readers other anthologies don’t. All the stores are resonably priced under $5.00.
The author Dayle A. Dermatis appears to be a regular of the UA. It seems she has written a story in every volume. Her two stories are the focus of this entry. The first story I am going to discuss is the Madness of Survival (TMOS) part of Magical Motorcylces Series, I believe this collection is issue one and it sold well enough to warrant another anthology.
The Madness of Survival is a short tale of a woman living on the edge. Our character Alis is the voice of this interesting work of fiction. Caution if you only believe in good fairies, this story is not from you. Our main character had escaped from Faery and attempted to have a normal life after that. Faery retaliated by taking her child. At this point Alis’s life as she made it fell apart. She loses everything that matters.
Despite her despair Alis forges a different life. She becomes part of group, who saves children from being kidnapped by fairies. They masquerade themselves as a motorcycle gang, each member is an escapee from faerie. Each member is flawed by their mistreatment in the other realm. They have a piece of faerie in them always, so they know faery tricks when they see them and motorcylces that seem more alive than machine and are therefore a little sentient.
The story is short and does not go into detail, how the smart bikes were acquired or why they feel like fairy. The reader knows 3 things, Alis survived faerie. Faeries stole her baby. Now she saves other children. This is her only solace. She is abandoned by everyone else that mattered. It is sad but for Alis she is understanding. So when the new assignment comes and she recognizes the targeted kid, she does everything to save him. This leads her to an epiphany. One that I believe should require a sequel but I am not the author.
After reading TMOS, I thought I had been mislead however still satisfied. It was a good actual read,which meant that there was no audio book. The story details I interpreted gave me a different impression. I thought the kidnapping included Alis and her escape was recent and her shunning was because she couldn’t explain what happened to her baby. Instead I was reading a story about two separate events that changed this woman’s life forever. Since reading the story, the details match. I don’t know why; could faery glamour be the cause? Hmm…
These are the things I liked about this story in no type of order:
- It ends happier than it began. Alis has a new understanding and is determined to get her daughter back. She has come up with a new tactic. This inkling has bound her to her bike. Who was always supportive of her. There is hope.
- Although they are mentioned as good and evil, there is actually no good faeries. Alis explains that humans are used as pawns in a war, a means to an end and their sanity or state of self does not matter. Every human that escaped is the finger to an oppressive system.
- Alis is the hero and narrator. She gets in a tough situation but she is still able to save the targeted child and come out of it. She does this by herself.
The second story I am going to talk about is Save A Prayer (SAP) is also by Dayle A. Dermatis, part of the Portals and Passageways issue 4 of UA. It is a light paranormal story narrated by the main character. Nikki Ahsburne is a daughter of a famous Executive producer in Hollywood. She is a former celebrity, famous for being famous or part of a famous family. The story is set California. Nikki had a near death experience and it was her own fault. She was a party it-girl and OD’d, the experience woke up her sixth sense and she could see dead people. Imagine Nikki’s shock to be slapped by her dead grandma.
This new ability could have made Nikki more famous, instead she chose to come out of the spotlight and settle down somewhat. She handles being medium better than I have ever read. She is less brooding about the subject and understanding to the ghost. Nikki once lived wild but now likes the quiet except she had a different kind of wild to contend with. Luckily for her Nikki has her ghost friends by her side. So on behalf of a friend, Nikki investigates a haunted mall. The story implies that Nikki has been on other paranormal adventures. However Nikki lacks offensive and defensive skills besides reason. She can see and talk to ghost and that is what she does.
In the story, unpleasant magic is used neglectfully and bad things followed. Her affinity for the dearly departed allows her to be sympathetic to the ghost plight, investigate and deduce the reasons why something like this happened. The Irony is that it is not an old curse or ghost. The tragedy is about 20’s years old. Many ghost stories are at least 50 to 100 hundred years old. This one was a little nostalgic about the 80’s and the mullet. Despite the danger and her lack of abilities, Nikki is able to talks it out, get to the truth and saves the day, such as it is.
These are my likes for this story:
- Nikki does not feel like a tortured individual. Similar paranormal stories often have the main character is some kind of unhealthy emotional state. Nikki does not seem to suffer from this too much.
- The balance between the humor and danger were met to my satisfaction.
- Despite seeming like a light weight, Nikki stood her ground.
In comparison SAP is a lighter read than TMOS. Yes horrible things happened to both women but they are handling their problems and the feel of their words are different. I tip my hat to the author. She was able to peak my interest on both stories, which means I wanted to know more about the characters and their world.
That concludes my review of the Uncollected Anthology stories by Dayle A Dermatis, The Madness of Survival and Save a Prayer.