The Blurb on Other People’s Words – Masked Mosaic

March 26, 2013 at 9:47 pm (fantasy, Reviews, writing) (, , , , , )

Masked Mosaic: Canadian Super Stories from Tyche Books

I’m getting this review in a day late, thanks to the last two stories in this anthology. Wading in to an all superhero anthology, and an all Canadian one at that, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The cover is a beautiful montage tacked together to offer the shape of a maple leaf. The first thing I was pleased to see was that there was a fairly even split between male and female contributors. The intro was solid too, from someone who can be considered an expert with regards to Canadian superheroes. But truly, what blew me away about this anthology was the diversity and complexity of the stories. All were lush with historical and/or cultural references. Some were set in the past with unusual alternative histories, others took place in current times and there was even one with a futuristic tone. The tales had focuses on heroes, villains and those falling in between, formats ranging from comic book character descriptions to poetry, myth-style storytelling to modern literary narrative. You can find a little of everything in the anthology from the whimsically quirky to the dark and soulful, with protagonists varying from potheads to senior citizens. I feel it is a well-polished, well-explored compilation and here are a few of my favourites – keep in mind that it’s the darker fiction that appeals to me most:

The Creep – Michael S. Chong: Possibly the darkest story in the anthology and certainly the most chilling. While not wanting to spoil the tale, I will say that it hinges on a disconnect between perspective and reality. It had my mind spinning off into just how far the “hero” might go with his powers.

Circe and the Gunboat – Kevin Cockle: I loved the illusion of the relationship between the protector in this story and his ward. The implications of how a less tangible super power could change the world and the extremes people might go to to preserve the new world order were very thought-provoking.

Sea and Sky – Rhonda and Jonathan Parrish: A terrific myth-based tale with old world ambiance, it captured my heart with its charm.

Lonesome Charlie Johnstone’s Strange Boon – Jason Sharp: A tragic story demonstrating the corruptive powers of wealth and power that is both sad and frightening with moments of dark humour. I enjoyed its quirky flavour.

My only minor disappointment with the anthology is that my favourite story by far, and the only one that made me cry, was the opening tale to the anthology, Nocturne by E. L. Chen – an angst-ridden, sympathy-driven story about one downtrodden man craving significance in a fickle world. I’m the type who likes to save the best for last, so I would have preferred to see it placed towards the end of the anthology.

I applaud this excellent anthology with such a strong and obvious Canadian influences. It definitely rates amongst the top of my recent reads.

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