Graven Images

Graven Images

by Nancy Kilpatrick

In this thrilling new anthology from the editors of In the Shadow of the Gargoyle (cited by Locus as one of the year's best anthologies), today's top fantasy and horror talents take a close look at our distant idols. Ancient gods who faded into history, all that remains are the mortal-made likenesses of their images -- sacred relics, holy statues, and hallowed trinkets bearing the images of those fabled gods who ruled over of all creation...Now, at last, the old gods have returned -- in these all-new tales of the sacred and profane, the beautiful and grotesque, the loving and vengeful.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Fantasy
  • Rating: 3.41
  • Pages: 249
  • Publish Date: October 1st 2000 by Ace Trade
  • Isbn10: 044100766X
  • Isbn13: 9780441007660

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My main issue with the collection as a whole is that the stories I didn't like generally had a lot of the same problems. Many of the stories ended with cheap twists that had me rolling my eyes or blankly turning to the next story, instead of leaving me with a feeling of poignancy or contemplation. Best thing about it was the fantastic descriptions of setting, which made the story have that immersion factor. More on her disfigurement in a second), and pretty much every other man in the story, as well as her mother-in-law. Luckily this is a mythology/magic-themed collection and she gets some supernatural retribution at the very end that ties nicely into the subtle foreshadowing that was done throughout the story. I don't think any short story has ever made me so angry, which is a good thing. Any time a story can make me feel an emotion strongly, even if its an unpleasant one, Id say its doing a good job. Meh. The Eleventh City, by Gene Wolfe (2/5) This entire story is basically some writer talking to his editor about something he witnessed while living in Central America and writing about local folklore, and asking whether or not this thing he witnessed counts as folklore since it was a fellow American that told the tale. Unfortunately he still needs to work on making the other aspects of a story interesting. Heart of Stone, by Lawrence Watt-Evans (5/5) I'm a sucker for short stories that read like fairy tales that were written a long time ago. Unfortunately the wizard left a young woman of his own creation behind, trapped inside the stone walls like a shadow. Ascension, by Yvonne Navarro (3/5) Like Eleventh City, this is another Mexican/Spanish-themed story that fails to truly grab me. Such a shame, as I really like the idea of that setting and culture and would love to read a story that does it justice. The virgin Mary eventually lets her loose on a descendant of the man who killed her just as he's about to start having an affair with a peasant woman that, I guess, is doomed to end the same way. It's one of the shorter stories in the collection and doesn't do a great job of making you feel the passage of time that this woman endured. Mud, by Brian McNaughton (1/5) This story starts with an intriguing ideathat mud is somehow sentient and malevolent and that the horrors of world war I or II (wasn't clear to me one way or the other), which the viewpoint character is fighting in at the time of the story, somehow released itbut it's immediately tossed aside for an action scene with guns and grenades that goes on for far too long and does nothing to establish character or plot. Here's an excerpt from the end of that action scene to give you an idea of the tone of this story. Teru turns into a cold intellectual until he figures out that coming into contact with creatures made out of stone (an angel in a cemetery and a black sphinx in a hidden room of the mansion-tower being the only examples) somehow bring his heart and all his feelings flooding back to him, and that's how the story ends. The weird god Teru's master summoned looked like a stone face, so there's a stone god who has Teru's heart and thus stone creatures make him feel things again? Even though it was obvious from the start that he was going to turn out to be evil, I was still expecting his motives to be cool or interesting in some way, but they were just boring. Unfortunately for him, after not very much time they start to see the most horrific thing they can imagine when they look at him, as the hula hoop doll calls him back to the car, where he can never leave. Probably the most interesting aspect of the story is that the man never says that people are secretly evil or conspiring to do evil. Masks, by Jack Ketchum and Edward Lee (1/5) A mythological gang bang story (literally) that goes on for way too long and would be more at home in an erotica collection, complete with a stupid and unearned twist at the end. The supernatural element is basically the idea that the afterlife is within us, and that certain people share the same inner world, and will end up in the same place.

I really enjoyed this collection of short stories.

There are tales of revenge by the gods for the believers.