A #WyrdAndWonder Anthology Review | “EQUUS” (Rhonda Parrish’s Magical Menageries, Collection 5) edited by Rhonda Parrish

Posted Sunday, 29 May, 2022 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review Year 5 badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I never had the chance to finish reading this particular anthology series which I fell in love with by the Indie publisher World Weaver Press. Sadly, after I purchased “Sirens” and “Equus” I learned the sad news this publisher was only going to release one new anthology which debuted during Wyrd And Wonder (ie. “Mothers of Enchantment”) but there will be no new releases moving forward. I was thankful I have a few years at least to gather copies of the rest of their anthologies I would like to read (especially as they have an impressive collection of Solarpunk!) whilst sorting which other titles aside from “Mothers of Enchantment” I would also like to purchase before they close their doors forever without a way of acquiring their titles. I highly recommend you back-read through my reviews for this publisher and see which titles you’d like to gather yourself, too.

On a happier note, I purchased “Sirens” and “Equus” to continue my journey into the vision Ms Parrish had for her Magical Menageries series of anthologies – as I began this adventure within the pages of “Fae” (see also Review), then “Corvidae” (see also Review) and “Scarecrow” (see also Review). It has been such an incredible and thrilling ride!! Especially as I have found such depth of centre within the stories I’ve blogged about as I made my way through each anthology – those writers captured me truly by the ways in which short fiction can truly transcend the shortness of its tales.

I was not obligated to post a review on its behalf. I am sharing my thoughts on behalf of this anthology for my own edification and a continued journey of sharing my readerly life on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Note: I received the Press Materials from the publisher World Weaver Press after requesting to use them for Wyrd And Wonder whilst I shared my reviews for both Sirens and Equus which would complete my journey with this anthology series edited by Rhonda Parrish.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

It has been about six years since I was caught inside the JOY of reading this anthology series which had bewitched my imagination and endeared me to the artfulness of how anthologists put together their anthologies! Yet, it was with a heavier heart I realised after contacting this publisher about the press materials, I would have to seek out titles I had planned to purchase within a shorter time-frame lest they go out of print before I have the chance to read them. Whilst at the same time, I’ve been a book cheerleader for the publisher ever since (2015) when I first read FAE. The anthology which started my journey into the Magical Menagaries series.

A week ago I was able to traverse through the stories set against the fable and lore behind SIRENS – whilst a few writers also entertained me with their variations on the classical stories of mermaids which I felt befit the collection as much as Ms Parrish! Let me share a glimpse into my final takeaways of reading SIRENS before I proceed to share my reflections on behalf of EQUUS.

I was thrilled to be able to peer into stories which thoughtfully played off the Classical and Modern spins of thought about sirens. There was emotional strife, comedic relief and thought-provoking tales which gave you more fodder to chew on than you first realised possible! I enjoyed being in different settings as well – from deep Space to a cruise ship to being seaside whilst a siren goes through her process of dating and finding herself forevermore disappointed by her choices. Yet, even when you feel you’ve reached your emotional limits – you find yourself in a war drama set against the foils of the Gods themselves!

The lovely imagery and imaginative eye of the writers who are inclusive of this anthology truly enthralled me with their ability to capture the vision of their story but also, giving me such fantastical glimpses into mermaids, sirens, and the Gods or Goddesses of Greek Mythos. There was a beautiful synergy of interest throughout the stories I read which parlay themselves into new fables to be told and listened too. Which was the beauty of it of course, because most Mythological stories are fables full of lessons of life or cautionary tales of one variety or another. I appreciated the diversity of the stories as much as the voices within them, too.

It is hard to believe I’ve almost concluded my time within the Magical Menageries series as I only have Equus left to read! Blessedly, there will be other collections and anthologies by Ms Parrish to chase after next and for that, I am grateful I first found her editorial work through World Weaver Press. As much as I hope some of the writers, I’ve found through their anthologies I can read again – either in new anthologies by other publishers and press or in their longer format stories. They each have a lovely style of etching out the fantastical and for that, I am a grateful reader!

-quoted from my review of SIRENS

It is with a heavier heart I am reading EQUUS, knowing that this is one of the final anthologies I’ll be able to read via World Weaver Press. They still have quite a few anthologies I’d like to purchase before the publishing house disappears into the ethos and only is a fragment of memory which was such a keenly joyous part of my readerly life these years I’ve been a book blogger. It will take time to find another publisher who is publishing the kind of anthologies I enjoy reading but thankfully Ms Parrish has a lovely variety of ones to collect which will keep me ruminatively satisfied!

If you’re as keenly interested in short stylised fiction as much as I am, I hope you’ll consider SIRENS, EQUUS or any of the other lovely editions of the Magical Menagaries series to be your #nextread! And, remember – there is a limited time frame in which to collect them before they go out of print.

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A #WyrdAndWonder Anthology Review | “EQUUS” (Rhonda Parrish’s Magical Menageries, Collection 5) edited by Rhonda ParrishEquus
by (Editor) Ms Rhonda Parrish
Source: Purchased | Personal Library

There’s always something magical about horses, isn’t there? Whether winged or at home in the water, mechanical or mythological, the equines that gallop through these pages span the fantasy spectrum. In one story a woman knits her way up to the stars and in another Loki's descendant grapples with bizarre transformations while fighting for their life. A woman races on a unique horse to save herself from servitude, while a man rides a chariot through the stars to reclaim his self-worth. From steampunk-inspired stories and tales that brush up against horror to straight-up fantasy, one theme connects them all: freedom.

Featuring nineteen fantastic stories of equines both real and imagined by J.G. Formato, Diana Hurlburt, Tamsin Showbrook, M.L.D Curelas, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, V.F. LeSann, Dan Koboldt, J.J. Roth, Susan MacGregor, Pat Flewwelling, Angela Rega, Michael Leonberger, Sandra Wickham, Stephanie A. Cain, Cat McDonald, Andrew Bourelle, Chadwick Ginther, K.T. Ivanrest, and Jane Yolen.

Genres: Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Short Story or Novella, Equestrian Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Mythological Fantasy

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-0998702209

Published by World Weaver Press

on 18th July, 2017

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 263

Published By: World Weaver Press (@WorldWeaver_wwp)

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Collection No.1 in this series is FAE | Info on Editor’s Blog | Info on Pub

Collection No. 2 in this series is Corvidae | Info on Pub

Collection No.3 in this series is Scarecrow | Info on Editor’s Blog | Info on Pub

Collection No. 4 in this series is SIRENS | Info on Pub

Collection No. 5 in this series is EQUUS | Info on Pub

Converse via: #DiverseSFF, #SFF, #SciFi, #Fantasy & #Anthology

+ #MagicalMenageries (the series tag!)

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Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Ebook

Genre(s): Fantasy | Mythology | Short Stories
(Inspired by) Horse Mythology (ie. Pegasus, Unicorn) | Anthology

About (Editor) Ms Rhonda Parrish

Rhonda Parrish

Like a magpie, Rhonda Parrish is constantly distracted by shiny things. She’s the editor of many anthologies and author of plenty of books, stories and poems. She lives with her husband and three cats in Edmonton, Alberta, and she can often be found there playing Dungeons and Dragons, bingeing crime dramas or cheering on the Oilers. To stay in touch her website is updated regularly and her Patreon is updated even more regularly.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

My Review of equus:

Equus promo quote badge provided by World Weaver Press and is used with permission.

 { am electing to highlight the stories within the anthology

which piqued my interest the most out of the sixteen offered inside }

Anthologies enrich my reading curiosities tenfold it’s still true
– but the anthologies that World Weaver Press
are putting out are amongst the treasured books in my personal library!

Similar to Ms Parrish, I grew up with a deep appreciation for horses, myself. In fact, when I was younger I was an Equestrian studying Dressage but I knew at the time, pursuing Dressage full-time when I was a pre-teenager wasn’t the right path for me. I never owned my own horse either – I rode lesson horses and bonded to them as easily as if they had been my own. I have many fond memories of riding and of being with the horses, as she mentioned in her Introduction – once you’re around a horse, you understand the world from a different perspective. They are wild and free and they share that freedom with us as riders. There is a beauty connection between rider and horse and I was thankful I was able to experience it when I was young. I always meant to return to the world of riding but unfortunately that door never was able to re-open as of yet.

I was excited when I realised the final chapter in this anthology series was going to focus on horses and all variants of equine as well. I had a feeling there would be certain stories I’d draw an eye on more than others, as I know it was mentioned there were demon horses – so unless that writer surprises me in a way I wasn’t expecting that particular one might not be my cuppa! I also was given books growing up as gifts by my parents and grand-parents alike whilst my Mum and Dad encouraged my readerly habits by letting me read and then return for more books – whether at the local library (which felt like a second home) or at a bookstore (new or used). Similar to Ms Parrish – I borrowed a heap of books but I also started to curate a personal library as a young girl, too.

Stories have a way of shaping us as much as inform us and I personally have been surrounded by the art of crafting stories from a reader’s perspective such I was quite young despite the hardships initially to read (ie. being dyslexic) whilst I eclipsed that journey when I became a writer, too. It has been a wonderful journey – as I love to explore different dimensions of literature, different angles of genre and different variants of story. This is one reason I love Speculative Fiction – as it re-defines and enlarges what can be done in a story whilst anthologies give me a chance to nibble away at a story in short format.

To say I was eager to finish my journey with the Magical Menagerie’s was both exciting and difficult as I knew it was part seeing one door close and another one open in regards to publishing companies. It was such a wicked good experience though – moving from FAE to EQUUS – I definitely encourage others to seek out this fantastic anthological series and see for themselves the joys I had within the pages of each installment!

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| Stars, Wings, and Knitting Things by J.G. Formato | GoodReads 

As I was reading this story, I was waiting for the unexplained to start to evolve in front of me as I was a bit bogged down in the realities of a wife bored with her paralegal husband. His life was an endless series of engagements and parties which were all synced into advancing his own career. Meanwhile, he left his wife at home without a way forward for her own interests and it felt much more like a situation where they had both moved on from one another than a secured marriage of an equal partnership. At first, I admit, I wasn’t quite enjoying this tale – it felt a bit low-key on the Fantasy side of the ledger and the opening bits of the story fell a bit short for me, too.

However, when Formato flexed her fantastical side into the story, things got interesting fast! It started off with a silvery feather and then, all of a sudden we’re spending time in the backyard, starring at the night sky and contemplating the constellations. I felt right at home at that point because who doesn’t like gazing up at the evening stars and trying to chase down the constellations themselves?! The knitting connection came a bit late but it was an interesting theory of how you can stitch and knit using different kinds of string as the ones used in this story are more celestial than they are fibre.

For me, that was the turning point in the story as then we were given a cursory history about Equus’s own origins and how the foal was connected to Pegasus! I never heard of this part of the Mythos before involving Pegasus and was quite charmed by how the story ended as well. As it wasn’t the kind of story you thought it was originally and it turnt itself round and became such an interesting story about flight, freedom and the pursuit of yearning towards something you know is true but you’ve forgotten how to return.

→ Explores the Mythos of Pegasus

→ There was a rather magically charming sequence about knitting and how those moments of knitty blissitude were connected to Pegasus. The only key issue I had with this story was the first half of it – the whole marriage to Marcus didn’t work for me and instead, I wish perhaps she hadn’t been married at all and we were seeing her life with her adopted Mum and grandmother as that felt like a stronger entrance into the story as well as a lovely bit of backstory as well as towards how she came to live with them. I felt that angle should have been pursued more and Marcus dropped out of sight as he just wasn’t helping the story.

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| Neither Snow, Nor Rain, Nor Heat-ray by M.L.D. Curelas | GoodReads

This is a harder hitting story than you first realise as London is at war (again) but this time with Martians who remind of the Delaks from Doctor Who. As I believe that was the intent – behind the heat-ray tripods? Whichever influenced the story, the crust of it is that one woman and her horse were conscripted into service for the Navy – to bring messages from the front to the docks in order to preserve the communications which were being upended and destroyed by the martians themselves. Your heart is in the pages as you read – as any reader of Historical Fiction set during the besieging years of war in the early 20th Century will attest to the sights, smells and sounds of this short story for accurately depicting what war was like and how hard it was to survive!

Even the side character was of interest – as there was a reflective nod here to Dr Moreau and I believe that meant experiments in transhumanism. Wherein people were no longer mere humans anymore but were altered and had become more than their peers. His storyline was a bit shorter than the lead characters’ but they both converged together in the end which was a jolt of joy for me because just before their reunion I thought all was surely lost and that the Martians had won this battle in the war!

Curelas was brilliant at showcasing the strength of bond between rider and horse whilst curating a gut-punch of a background in which to place them. What shined was the bravery and the strength of believing you can do the impossible even when the world round you fell to war and ruin.

→ A rift on the Pony Express!

→ A variant of the Pony Express – wherein riders who act as messengers do not allow themselves to be distracted by the horrors of the war they’re engaged in but rather to focus on the duty before them as messengers. The title of course is a rift itself on the USPS (United States Postal Service) mantra about how nothing will prevent the delivery of the mail!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com| Above the Silver Sky by Dan Koboldt | Site | @DanKoboldt | GoodReads

You can appreciate the yearnings of freedom and of escape on behalf of the young girl in this story – she has lived a bit of a sheltered life with her father and the world (or what she felt she knew of it) lay beyond the sky and only where the horses could fly themselves too. It was a story about curiosity and determination. The father liked having a simpler life and existence – of relying on the production life of the mushrooms and the growing season as a whole. His was a steady life but a blessed one which allowed him the grace to raise his daughter. Yet, he was always fearful of what could happen if his daughter caught sight of the horses – because those horses held the most mystery of all in this world.

From the perspective of the young girl, we grew our understanding about her life and the larger world therein. Although, once she found the way up and out of her life – away from her father, the world felt strangely larger than it first appeared. It also didn’t seem to be like other worlds but rather like a dimensional shift of worlds – where different worlds could all co-exist and be co-dependent upon one another at the same time. As there was already a cause and an effect of circumstances which led her to that particular place and moment be as it were without giving away spoilers!

Your heart goes out to her father and grandmother though – of knowing they won’t see her again and realising that like her mother, she was bourne for something other than what they could have provided. It is the kind of story which plays on your emotions and gives you something hearty to think about after you conclude reading it. Part of me wondered – what did she find next? How many different portals could the horses enter and exit? And, of course – where were the other riders who could do the same as she did herself?

→ Flying horses. Hidden worlds. A chance of adventure!

→ The beauty of this story was the brief time we had within it – just when we felt the most comfortable inside this world, the world itself enlarged and grew a bit more encompassing right before our eyes to where we only had a fraction of its expanse to ruminate over!

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Closing Thoughts on behalf of reading the Magical Menageries
by Rhonda Parrish as this anthological series concludes:

Before I quit reading Eel and Bloom (due to the vulgarity of it) I learnt a bit about kelpies – the water horses – of Scottish Mythology which I hadn’t had the chance to experience as of it. For whichever reason, I felt kelpies were something else entirely. What was interesting about the kelpies (the horses) in this short story was how large hooved they were and how powerful they were as runners round a track. They had an instinctive edge about them and if the story hadn’t taken such a darker underturning, I might have staid with it. Of course, the vulgar ways in which it was written was over the top for me as a reader, so there’s that as well. Yet, it was the mystery of the plant in bloom and what it bespoke of death that held your eye the longest.

A Mother Unicorn’s Advice to her Daughter was more essay than short story but it held within it the telling truths of danger which surround the unicorns as much as they absurdity of misconceptions about who they are as well as character traits that were never theirs to claim. It is a cautionary essay about survival and how to live in a world which doesn’t understand what it wants or how to handle the things which first appear to be impossible: such as a live unicorn. It was a compelling short to say the least and it held a bit of cheeky humour as well – though, I felt it was a bit too short in a way, as I would have loved to have seen it expanded just a bit further and to be a bit more rounded in allowing us to hear the daughter’s reaction!

I was thankful I could find some stories which let me get lost inside their characters’ lives whilst giving me a bit more of an insight into the Mythos and lore surrounding horses in Fantasy. I didn’t quite enjoy all the stories within this collection as duly noted on this review but the ones I’ve spoken about were quite magical and settled into my heart and imagination the way I had hoped they might have before I picked up the collection to read.

And, that was the best way to conclude my readings of this series of anthological short stories — to find a bit of joy and to discuss the stories which held my eye and heart the most. Hopefully something I’ve shared about my own experiences in these stories might spark the interest of another reader who will take the journey I took and find their own ‘best shorts’ in each of the installments of this five anthology series.

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Fly in the Ointment: Content Notes:

For whichever reason, the last installments of this series, although some had some stronger inclusions within the context of their stories (ie. violence, vulgarity, tone, darker storylines) – I felt the stories within EQUUS took the cake for me when it came to all of these inclusions cumulating all together at once! A lot of the stories use stronger language – more than just a sprinkling and some of the stories are just a step too dark for me but would be better for readers who crave their next fix in Dark Fantasy. I only like to dip my toes into Dark Fantasy and I am not an avid traveller of those kinds of worlds and stories; occasionally I’ll feel bewitched by those kinds of stories but there has to be a particular array of Light threading through them or I just feel their not my cuppa.

This collection I felt was a step removed from the rest as it was harder to find stories to enjoy reading whilst it also just felt darker overall – the other collections were full of Light and were such an uplift to read. This felt like the opposite was happening as I read the stories each in turn of sequence and that is why my notes and reflections are a bit more limited in scope for EQUUS than for the other four Magical Menageries collections.

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This book review celebrates the writers
& publishing team of: World Weaver Press

World Weaver Press Logo provided by World Weaver Press and used with permission.

Showcases of World Weaver Press Titles:

FAE (see also Review)

Disclosing my keen interest in CORVIDAE + Scarecrow (#BookishNotBookish No.6)

Scarecrow (see also Review)

CORVIDAE (see also Review)

SURPRISE! I awarded World Weaver Press the honour of two of my Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards as disclosed on my *End of the Year Survey, 2015*.

The previously mentioned Cover Reveal w/ Notes for
Murder in the Generative Kitchen as well as my review for this story

I spotlighted The Meddlers of Moonshine on my review of The Falling of the Moon

Far Orbit: Apogee (edited by) Bascomb James (see also Review)

Heir to the Lamp (Book One: The Genie Chronicles)
by Michelle Lowry Combs (see also Review)

Solomon’s Bell (Book One: The Genie Chronicles)
by Michelle Lowry Combs (see also Review)

Frozen Fairy Tales (edited by Kate Wolford (see also Review)

SIRENS (see also Review)

After I conclude my readings of “Equus” it will mark my 11th review for this publisher.

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it.
I look forward to hearing your takeaways about this novel & the author’s guest feature. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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This book review is part of the #bookhaul of Fantasy novels
I purchased this year for #WyrdAndWonder:

Book Haul Wyrd And Wonder photo collage created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: jorielovesastory.com

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Reading this story contributed to
my #WyrdAndWonder Year 5:

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#WyrdAndWonder Year 5 banner created by Jorie in Canva.


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Enjoying my fantastical reviews about the worlds of Fantasy?

Ever since the beginning of Jorie Loves A Story, I have embarked on a Quest to seek out stories within the worlds of Fantasy which would heighten my awareness of the genre and give me wicked good reads – across the subniches of a genre I’ve loved since I was seventeen. Every May, I happily co-host @WyrdAndWonder – whilst throughout the months of the year, I regularly read & discuss the Fantasy reads I am discovering.

Visit my full archive for ALL my #EnterTheFantastic wanderings! As well as take a walkabout through my archives for #WyrdAndWonder – or take a walkabout through my archive for everything deemed wickedly fantastical!

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “EQUUS”, book synopsis, World Weaver Press badge and promo banner were all provided by the publisher World Weaver Press and are used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Wyrd And Wonder Book Review badge Year 5, #bookhaul collage badge and Sirens book review quote banner (Photo Credit: ©jorielovesastory.com), #WyrdAndWonder Year 5 banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2022.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 29 May, 2022 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, After the Canon, Anthology Collection of Stories, Classical Literature, Content Note, Excessive Violence in Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, Folklore, Folklore and Mythology, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, Novellas or Short Stories, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Vulgarity in Literature

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