Missing Monarchs by Fox Spirits
This is an anthology of short stories from the Fox Pockets collection, with a wide variety of genres centered around the theme “Missing Monarchs”. The collection overall is really fun; there’s a brilliant mix of noir, supernatural, fantasy, folklore and plenty of murders, all wrapped up in some nice writing and brilliantly executed concepts.
The anthology starts with Headless in Bury, a fun hardboiled detective investigation crossed with Viking mythology that has a nice twist at the end. Later on in the anthology, Tits Up In Wonderland also has a gritty noir feel with a brilliantly twisted version of Lewis Carroll’s world that’s fun, dirty, and wonderfully nasty.
Some stories deal with the supernatural; In Absentia is a chilling story of witchcraft and mystery, and Lou Morgan’s Oliver Cromwell’s Head is a tale of supernatural collectors who get rather more than they bargained for with their latest purchase. The Blooding is otherworldly and fantastic, with a nice dose of treachery and double-crossing, and The Collector is a tale of supernatural mystery. Matriarch is a sci-fi action; smoothly written despite the focus on the fight. There’s a folklore theme too; The Lost Queen is a bittersweet and poignant tale about a lost city and found dreams, Monarch of The Glen intertwines real life and mythology, and the brilliant Paths In The Forest is dark and compelling, with a chilling twist.
I enjoyed the entire collection, and found it hard to pick one favourite! The Runaway King is a sweet and charming story about a king who walks in the footsteps of his ancestors, and is a nice easy read. Jo Thomas’ chatty style is engaging as always in The Lost Kingdom, which has a heartbreaking ending within some amazing world-building and characters that you want to know more about. But I think my favourite is the unsettling Checkmate; clever, chilling and creepy, with a shivers-down-your-spine twist.
Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.