Saturday 23 September 2017

Book Review: Starlings by Jo Walton

Title: Starlings
Author: Jo Walton
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
Publication Date: 30 January 2018
Pages: 198
Format: eBook - EPUB
Genre: Short Stories/Fiction/Fantasy
Source: ARC via NetGalley

An intimate first flight of short fiction from award-winning novelist Jo Walton (Among Others, The King’s Peace).

A strange Eritrean coin travels from lovers to thieves, gathering stories before meeting its match. Google becomes sentient and proceeds toward an existential crisis. An idealistic dancer on a generation ship makes an impassioned plea for creativity and survival. Three Irish siblings embark on an unlikely quest, stealing enchanted items via bad poetry, trickery, and an assist from the Queen of Cats.

With these captivating initial glimpses into her storytelling psyche, Jo Walton shines through subtle myths and wholly reinvented realities. Through eclectic stories, subtle vignettes, inspired poetry, and more, Walton soars with humans, machines, and magic—rising from the everyday into the universe itself. (Goodreads Synopsis)

I agonised over how to review and rate this book. To start with the positive points, Starlings contains a selection of tales ranging from true short stories to vignettes, to poems. Not all of them resonated with me, but there were a few standouts. For example, I particularly enjoyed 'Three Twilight Tales' and 'Unreliable Witness'. Considering the range of material, I would say that there will be something here for everyone. However, one thing put me off this book and that was the use of afterwords at the end of each story. I would have had no issue had they added value, but for the most part they seemed pointless and I really didn't like the way the author used some of them to rant about things such as publishers who hadn't paid her. It seemed so unprofessional. And those afterwords that weren't complaints came across a little too self-congratulatory at times, which didn't give me a positive impression of the author and which, therefore, affected my relationship with her work too. I think I would have enjoyed the collection more overall had those afterwords not been there. As it is, I am giving this 3.5 stars as there were some good tales in there and it was an interesting collection of pieces from throughout the author's career.