Denise Little, editor,
The Magic Shop
(DAW, 2004)

The Magic Shop is an anthology of short stories compiled by Denise Little. "Everyone could sometimes use a little magic in their life," says the blurb on the back cover. "And wouldn't it be great if some of the magic shops scattered through our cities and small towns actually sold real magic rather than tricks and illusions? Or would it?"

There are 17 stories, most told from the point of view of the frequenters rather than the owners of magic shops, and mostly fairly predictable in a caveat emptor kind of a way. If I had to choose my favourite it would be Michelle West's "Dime Store Rings," a daughter's tale if ever I read one. I also enjoyed Susan Sizemore's "Every Little Thing She Does" (although once I'd read the title I couldn't kick the Police song out of my head) and "Winter Phoenix," an unusual take on what might have happened to Her Imperial Highness the Grand Duchess Anastasia, by India Edghill.

However, for the most part this collection is more mundane than magical, and the stories aren't especially memorable. The writers are solid, but not A-list -- at least not yet. And sometimes even A-list novelists make so-so short-story tellers. But all in all this is not a bad collection.

by Jean Lewis
22 October 2005

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