Denise Little, editor,
(DAW, 2002)

Short stories are not my preferred format; I am happiest when deep in a trilogy, but I was tempted by this title. The only other short stories I have enthused over are the books of interconnected Newford tales by Charles de Lint, scarcely a valid comparison as this collection is proffered by 15 different authors, most unknown to me.

But I was delighted to find my intuition had not let me down, and I cannot recall the last time I enjoyed a book like this so much. Every tale is a little gem, sparkling with its own particular colour, and many are delightfully amusing, particularly Laura Resnick's "First Familiars," detailing memos sent by the resident Familiar in the White House (The First Pet) and its ruling Dark Powers, brimming with tongue-in-cheek humour! The variety of the familiars is unexpected, ranging from the anticipated cats through rats, miniature dragons and talking swords.

The story that intrigued me most was Michelle West's "Legacy," the length of which dwarfed the other tales. Its "Dungeons & Dragons" theme kept me guessing until the very end and this little novella gave me the definite impression (and hope) that the theme may be expanded to fill an entire book at some future date.

The stories by Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Jody Lynn Nye, both of whom I have read before, did not disappoint me, and it was lovely to read the rest and acquaint myself with the authors' viewpoint on familiars. Other authors represented here are Andre Norton, P.N. Elrod, Von Jocks, Jean Rabe, Bill McCay, Laura Anne Gilman, Diane A.S. Stuckart, Gary A. Braunbeck, Susan Sizemore, Josepha Sherman and John Helfers.

You may pick up Familiars, thinking it an easy book to dip in and out of, but if you are like me, you will keep reading one after the other, addictively, until you have devoured them all!

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 28 December 2002

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