Bruce Coville,
Oddly Enough
(Harcourt, 1994)

Bruce Coville has written a collection of wholesome short stories extolling the virtues of faith, patience, reconciliation, peace, remembrance, inner beauty and forgiveness. Incidentally, none of the tales really appeal to me, since I don't tend to like stories with Wholesome Messages. Most of them come across as a little bland and predictable, and I particularly didn't like the message about faith in "The Box."

I do, however, love stories that have a surprising or chilling twist at the end -- exemplified in Patricia C. Wrede's "Cruel Sisters" and Vivian Vande Velde's "Straw into Gold" and "Lost Soul," and "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson. The stories found in Oddly Enough are neither inspiring nor inspired, and I would tend to agree with Coville when he said he never thought of himself as a short-story writer. However, I can see how these stories might appeal to younger fantasy readers, and parents should certainly approve of them. The cover art is also gorgeous; it is only unfortunate the stories did not turn out to be as spontaneous and surreal.

If you like your stories with a bit more ... attitude, I would suggest Wrede's excellent anthology, The Book of Enchantments, Vande Velde's Curses, Inc., or A Wizard's Dozen, which is a good collection of young-adult fantasy stories by different authors.

by Jennifer Mo
30 September 2006

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