In the Bleak Midwinter

Rated 5.00/5 based on 1 reviews
Anne B. Walsh presents five tales inspired by Christina Rossetti's classic poem, perfect for reading by the light of your Yuletide fire. Journey from the world of Trycanta, where a family celebrates the winter solstice; to the starship called the "Wild Rover", where gifts tell stories about life and living; to 18th-century England, where a young man must speak his lady's true name to win her... More

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Words: 29,270
Language: English
ISBN: 9781311362018
About Anne B. Walsh

Anne B. Walsh was telling stories about magic and intrigue from the time she could talk, but it took her twenty years to realize she could make a living at it. Her first novel, historical fantasy "A Widow in Waiting", has its origins in a PBS special which changed her life; her second, family-focused fantasy "Homecoming", takes its inspiration from some of her other writing; and her third, soft science fiction "Killdeer", stems from her constant interest in the ways in which the future and the past coincide.

Anne lives east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with one roommate (Krystal), two black Labs (Buddy and Brando), and two black cats (Starsky and Hutch). Sadly, their Cane Corso mastiff, Bruce, passed away in mid-August 2013, and their first cats, Poppy and Sesame, who helped inform Anne's first collection of short stories, "Cat Tales", passed out of their lives after an accident on Christmas Day 2013. No one ever said life was fair.

Anne's parents and siblings live two hours north of her, otherwise known as just far enough away. She has also been writing Harry Potter fan fiction for more than ten years and is known best in that genre as the creator of the "Dangerverse" alternate universe (which inspired "Homecoming").

Beyond writing fiction, Anne's preoccupations include reading fiction; singing anywhere that will have her, including her church and local galas; theatre, especially musicals; all forms of cooking; and her family and friends. Within writing fiction, her preoccupations are much the same, meaning most of her stories involve loving families, delicious food, and good music. Consider yourself warned.

A number of projects continue to need Anne's attention as she writes her original novels. Among these are her ongoing fanfiction works in various fandoms such as Harry Potter and Frozen, and the themed fantasy anthologies she co-authors with her friend and fellow author Elizabeth Conall.

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Reviews

Review by: Heather Smith on Nov. 19, 2014 :
Well. This collection is much better, as a whole, than "Sing We Now of Christmas", which only HAD one decent story. Four out of five stories in this collection hit the mark.

However... for those who think perhaps they can skip the first collection... that's not going to work. Two stories in this one are direct sequels to tales in that one.

Anyway. The stories.

The first one is the weakest in the set, being more of a character snapshot in a fantasy world than a story as such, and the self-imposed limit of 1000 words doesn't let it be fleshed out much. That being said, it IS set in the world of "Homecoming", which I have not read, and uses characters from it. So the fleshing-out probably happened in the novel proper - ergo, if you liked "Homecoming", you'll probably like this tale a lot more than I did. Unfortunately this story hasn't encouraged me to give "Homecoming" a shot as the short stories I've read in Anne's other worlds have, because I don't think it CAN be read properly as a stand-alone; I think you need the background to make it work.

I enjoyed "Nor Earth Sustain". I'm not sure which story world Trycanta is, but it doesn't matter for this at all - it's perfectly comprehensible. I particularly liked the humour ("Jetta Molina. Dutch and Spanish, if you’re wondering, and somewhere my ancestors are laughing, if they’re not still fighting with each other."). And there's a lot more where that came from. A most enjoyably giggle-worthy serious tale. If you can believe that. :)

Ah, "Enough". I am REALLY going to have to read "Killdeer" if it's anything at all like the short stories set in its world. This one has a more imaginative structure than any of the other stories in this collection - the short story in "Sing We Now of Christmas" that it's a sequel to is somewhat similar but this one is far superior; Anne's obviously honed her craft in the intervening time. It's two interlacing stories - one real-time and where the plot happens; and one about the meaning of certain Christmas gifts (trying to keep this spoiler-free) which is absolutely lovely and ties in at a subtextual level. This story is one to savour.

I also enjoyed "With a Kiss" but coming as it did after "Enough" I can't think of much to say about it because my mind was still stubbornly hanging around one tale back. It is a good story with some humour, and it made me curious about "A Widow in Waiting", so it's certainly not a bad little tale. It's just its poor fortune that "Enough" is the best of the bunch!

You may be able to tell which story is my favourite here.

"What Can I Give Him" is the sequel to another tale from Anne's first Christmas collection that I did not enjoy at all. Unfortunately, you're going to have to read that in order to enjoy this one, otherwise you're going to get a little lost. And this one IS enjoyable, and worth reading, and I liked it. She's got rid of the fanfiction base that the first one suffered from via underdevelopment, and made the world her own here. The characterisations in particular are much better, and it's a pretty good story as well.

This collection is worth the buy.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

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