Friday 6 December 2019

Review: Laughter at the Academy - Seanan McGuire

From fairy tale forest to gloomy gothic moor, from gleaming epidemiologist’s lab to the sandy shores of Neverland, Seanan McGuire’s short fiction has been surprising, delighting, confusing, and transporting her readers since 2009. Now, for the first time, that fiction has been gathered together in one place, ready to be enjoyed one twisting, tangled tale at a time. Her work crosses genres and subverts expectations.

Meet the mad scientists of “Laughter at the Academy” and “The Tolling of Pavlov’s Bells.” Glory in the potential of a Halloween that never ends. Follow two very different alphabets in “Frontier ABCs” and “From A to Z in the Book of Changes.” Get “Lost,” dress yourself “In Skeleton Leaves,” and remember how to fly. All this and more is waiting for you within the pages of this decade-spanning collection, including several pieces that have never before been reprinted. Stories about mermaids, robots, dolls, and Deep Ones are all here, ready for you to dive in.

This is a box of strange surprises dredged up from the depths of the sea, each one polished and prepared for your enjoyment. So take a chance, and allow yourself to be surprised.

Visit Seanan McGuire's website for more information

Laughter at the Academy is a collection of 22 short stories written by Seanan McGuire, these stories have all been published before but this is the first time they've been collected together and each has an introduction from the author explaining why she chose to include it in this anthology. None of these stories are linked to existing series (like October Daye or Incryptid) so you don't need to be familiar with Seanan's other books to enjoy them.

This really was a fantastic collection of stories, it includes everything from urban fantasy, science fiction and horror through to a couple of retellings and even a steampunk story thrown in for fun. There are hints of Peter Pan and the Wizard of Oz alongside stories of multiverses and mermaids so it really does have something for everyone.

As with any short story collection some stories will resonate more than others but overall there were far more hits than misses and there were a lot of worlds or characters that I'd love the chance to spend more time with. My particular favourites were The Tolling of Pavlov's Bells (a story about a scientist who is fed up of trying to explain the risks of bioterrorism), Crystal Halloway and the Forgotten Passage (which reminded me a little of the Wayward Children series), Please Accept My Most Profound Apologies for What Is About to Happen (But You Started It) (about a social misfit who loves dinosaurs) and Down, Deep Down, Below the Waves (the story of a grad student who has been carrying out an unexpected experiment).

If you're a Seanan McGuire fan then you're sure to love this collection, and even if you're new to her work then this would be a brilliant place to start. She has such an incredible imagination and always manages to throw in surprising twists that turn things upside down. I would love to know where she gets her ideas from!

Source: Received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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