A delightful collection of whimsical, sometimes wistful short stories. Written with a light touch and a wry smile, this collection is the perfect antidote to all the aggravation and aggression of modern life. The settings switch from present day to historical high points and futuristic satire, while the stories inhabit territory in between skulduggery and silliness, murder and mischief.
Ansbro’s tales touch on traditional folklore, myth and legend, and work best when they juxtapose familiar or ancient characters with matter of fact, everyday life. The writing flows naturally and these tales are extremely easy to read; you’re completely at home with each scenario in a couple of pages. Expect to laugh out loud at some of the developments – anything can happen here. Cats, bats and aquatic animals can talk, the fae walk among us, and mortals are forever flawed.
Just when you’re comfortably chuckling at the absurdity of it all, the author pulls out the emotional rug with a powerful reminder of the fragility of the human condition. These stories aren’t just frothy entertainment: most of the parables have a solid moral centre if you choose to seek it.
In traditional folktales like Grimm, sexuality is an ever-present if unacknowledged undercurrent. In Ansbro’s storytelling it often stands proud, front and centre, sometimes comically so. Nothing explicit or offensive, you understand, but these episodes should definitely be rated 15 – for consenting adults only.
As with any collection of short stories, a couple of the fables misfired, I felt. I wasn’t sure what the autobiographical episodes were about – but that’s the joy of an anthology. You turn the page and there’s not simply a new chapter but instead an entire new universe populated with its own unique characters.
Ansbro’s use of language is also a delight (even if he does occasionally employ an unusual word in an inappropriate situation). He experiments with vocabulary, places, phrases, style and setting when most writers play it safe and stick to an established formula. Very refreshing!
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
The Minotaur’s Son by Kevin Ansbro is available at Amazon