Good and Evil. Two sides of the same coin? Or something less defined? J.M. Frey’s three stories explore the grey area of hero vs. villain. Funny and irreverent, “The Once And Now-ish King” finds King Arthur reborn. “Just A Four Letter Word” follows Jennet, descendant of mythic lovers. In “The Maddening Science”, a former supervillain is forced to return to a life of crime to save his stalker.
I knew I was going to like this when I picked it up. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Frey’s writing previously, so I fully anticipated that this would be just as enjoyable. And it really, REALLY was.
This is a collection of 3 short stories; while each story is quite different from the others, they all have a few similarities: fully fleshed out characters, well written narratives, and a story that draws the reader in. Each story is interesting right from the get-go, is easy to get into, and is a story that you wish wouldn’t end.
The Once and Now-ish King starts off the collection with a look at what might happen if Arthur were to be reborn today. From throwing his parents for a loop when he starts talking the day he’s born, to seeing Merlin as a 13 year old girl, this story is definitely an unexpected, original and funny take on Arthurian legend. And, as I am a total sucker for anything related to Arthurian legend, I thoroughly appreciated the humour in Frey’s story.
The second story in the collection, Just a Four Letter Word is a fae story… you know, the type of fae story where the fey are not the happy sparkly kind, but are dark and dangerous and would kill humankind without giving it a second thought. On one hand, I found this the hardest to really jump into. On the other hand, though, its magic stayed with me once I was finished reading it.
The Maddening Science was by far the sexiest story in this collection. This one tells us the story of a former supervillain who finds himself rescuing a young woman who would have died without his help. Oh, this one was GOOD. It definitely shows a blur between good guy and bad guy; providing the danger and sex appeal that make some heroes so delicious, while removing all possible consequences, making the villain seem safe… I will definitely be rereading this story many times over!
My one disappointment with this book is that it was so darn short – I wish there were more stories!
The Bottom Line
Highly recommended for fantasy fans.