Despite a busy weekend gardening, I've still managed to read four short stories for Carl's Once Upon a Time III...
The first one was The Girl who Heard Dragons from the anthology of the same name by Anne McCaffrey.
Aramina is a young girl who can communicate telepathically with dragons. Her family are holdless wanderers, unfairly driven from their home by the evil Lord Fax. Driven to leave their current home they head up into the mountains where circumstances conspire and at long last Aramina comes face to face with dragonriders and their dragons. I don't think this story will mean anything to people not familiar with Anne McCaffrey's Pern universe. Those who are will find it as charming as I did. And what a fabulous cover!
The Dwarf - Ray Bradbury. (From The October Country.)
Aimee works for a carnival. Bored, one hot evening, she visits Ralph who runs the Mirror Maze. He tells her about a dwarf that comes there every night and who clearly wants to buy a mirror... Odd little tale this one. I'm not entirely sure what the point of it was, other than to illustrate how cruel people can be. Reason enough perhaps.
Dead Man's Shoes - Charles De Lint
Angel, a woman who has appeared in previous Newford stories and who runs a refuge for street children, is having a strange dream. In it the ghost of a homeless man, known as Everett, approaches her in the steet holding something wrapped in newspaper; she can't see what it is but feels desperate to know. Alive, Everett was not a pleasant man but his eyes are pleading... he wants her to do something but she can't figure out what. A boy called Robbie takes her to see the body and Angel sees that his distinctive boots are missing. Robbie tells her that 'Macaulay' must have taken them and it's left to Angel to reluctantly solve the mystery of how her dreams are connected with the missing boots and the strange boy who collects shoes.
Bird Bones and Wood Ash - Charles De Lint
Jaime is being followed around by what she thinks of as women with the faces of animals - bear, raven, toad, snake and many more. They want her to do something and tell her, 'It is for those who have need of a strong mother.' She thinks this has stemmed from a visit she made to a fairy ring with her beloved Annie who has recently died. Whatever the reason, Jaime accepts 'gifts' from each of the anima and finds herself doing something to men who abuse their children. Which is how she comes into contact with Chris Dennison, the social worker from a previous story in this anthology, The Forest is Crying. Chris has an idea...
Two more terrific stories from Charles De Lint. This anthology, The Ivory and the Horn really is very good ineed.