Urban Mythic: a modern magical mystery tour

UrbanMythicThe 14 authors who contributed to Urban Mythic have drawn on a wide variety of folklore, fable and freaky faery stories to blend a solid mix of different interpretations around the book’s common theme. Some of these tales are out and out action-adventures, while others are altogether more whimsical and wistful. None are particularly long, which means you can read them in 20 minute or half-hour sessions and reach a satisfying conclusion without having to leave an adventure halfway through.

In all of these tales, a demigod or weird sister or gothic monster has somehow sidestepped into the modern world. These are exactly the kind escapist, imaginative entertainments which brighten the day – they draw on ancient legends and traditions but it’s easy to believe that maybe all this activity is going on, just out of sight…

Despite the title, not all of these escapades are set in the big city. One particularly atmospheric piece brings to life the White Horse of the green rolling hills of rural England, cleverly retaining the mystery of the ancient landscape. Others are firmly rooted in 21st century London, which provides the stage for several stories including a reworking of a Midsummer Night’s Dream, a much-misplaced green man, and a fate worse than death: being held in limbo by the bureaucrats for administrative failures as a warlock. That latter story expertly blends a tongue-in-cheek take on modern wizardry and red tape with a distinctly ominous edge…

A couple of these stories involve characters who are obviously part of established series and one (with a talking dog at an Indian takeaway: wonderful) which seems to be the start of something. They work fine as stand-alones in this collection but there is one piece, ‘Dragonform Witch’ which is little more than an introduction and wasn’t especially satisfying. It was all beginning; no middle or end – and part of my enjoyment of a short story is getting some reasonably rapid gratification…

However, that majority of the stories more than did the business on that score. ‘The Wizard of West 34th Street’ is an almost perfect example of an urban myth with a sting in its tail. ‘Family Business’ reminded me very much of Neil Gaiman’s Endless, and offered an intriguing insight into the ebbing away of supernatural strengths. My outright favourite was ‘The Fish-Bowl’ – set against the urgent thrum of modern urban Asia and oh-so cleverly blending ancient folklore (the djinn, if you will, who grants wishes but always at a price) and real-world contemporary social concerns – the hot-housing of young students at the expense of childhood. it takes real skill to wrap such big concepts into such a small package and to do it with such panache.

Overall, then, a cracking collection for anyone with an open mind…
8/10

Available from Amazon.

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3 thoughts on “Urban Mythic: a modern magical mystery tour

  1. Pingback: Urban Mythic reviewed | The Alchemy Press

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