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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

The Poison Eaters & Other Stories

Author: Holly Black
Originally Published: February 2010
Publisher: Big Mouth House, an imprint of Small Beer Press
Source: ARC received through LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program

The Story

Over the past almost-decade, Black has had a number of short faerie stories published in various magazines and collections. The Poison Eaters is a collection of these stories – along with two new never-before published stories.

The stories in this collection include:

  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
  • A Reversal of Fortune
  • The Boy Who Cried Wolf (This did not appear in the ARC)
  • The Night Market
  • The Dog King
  • Virgin
  • In Vodka Veritas
  • The Coat of Stars
  • Paper Cuts Scissors
  • Going Ironside
  • The Poison Eaters

(There is also one additional story in the finished collection, but it isn’t included in the ARC and is just titled “Unititled”.)

These stories, while all faerie stories of some sort, tell everything from stories of fey, to a story of a deal with devil, to a story about a boy who lives with a unicorn.

The Review

I typically have a hard time with short story collections – not the case with The Poison Eaters. For the most part, all the stories in here were both very different and very enjoyable. In fact, there were only two stories that I didn’t particularly like – Going Ironside and Virgin. Virgin I found to be a little bit boring, and I simply couldn’t get into the narration style of Going Ironside.

The others, I found, were quite exciting. Even though they are short stories, Black makes you feel like you know the characters well. There are so many good things to say about each of the others, and I can’t even pick which ones are my favourites.

I really enjoyed The Poison Eaters, The Coat of Stars and The Night Market because they read a lot like traditional fairy tales. I loved that The Coldest Girl in Coldtown showed raw vampirism (as opposed to shiny vampirism) and the obsession that people have with vampires; same goes for The Dog King‘s different take on werewolves. A Reversal of Fortune in which the main character bet the devil she could eat more candy than him was definitely a rather humourous concept. And then there was In Vodka Veritas, which had an awesomely evil Latin club who pretty much poisoned the whole prom.

And okay, maybe I lied when I said that I couldn’t pick any favourites… because really? Paper Cuts Scissors kind of shows what every book lover would love to do. A party with your favourite fictional characters? The Hogwarts crew, the Scarlet Pimpernel, all the Jane Austen characters? That would be freaking awesome. So maybe that story wins just for that fact.

The Bottom Line

So definitely a very solid collection of short stories that I would highly recommend to either Holly Black fans or urban fantasy fans.

Other Reviews

Rat’s Reading. Have you reviewed this book on your blog? Let me know and I’ll add your link.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 7:12 am February 9, 2010.
Category: Short Stories
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