I am mostly familiar with Cat Rambo through her tweets. I subscribe to her twitter feed because she’s the president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and she has a lot of connections and I get a pretty good idea of what’s happening in the sci-fi/fantasy world that I should be aware of. But since I wasn’t familiar with her work itself, when I had the opportunity to review one of her collections I jumped at the chance. I happen to love short stories, so this seemed just about right for me.
Rambo has a nice, easy-flowing style that makes reading a pleasure, but I did find that all these stories had the general same tone and pacing to them. So much so, in fact, that nothing really stood out to me. I’m typically pretty liberal with marking up my Kindle books – making notes, highlighting sections, and marking which stories I liked and why (or which I did not like, and also why) and there’s not a single note in this book. Nothing stuck out – nothing was bad or terrible, but nothing was particularly memorable either.
One of the things I enjoy as much as the stories themselves, when reading a collection or an anthology, is the comments about the story by the author (or editor). Reading about why a story was written – what inspired it (sometimes just a call for a story to fit an anthology) or what the author was trying to do (blend two genres for instance) – is fascinating to me.
In her commentary on the stories Rambo notes that a few of the stories are placed in certain worlds that she has created in some of her other works. Not knowing these works myself, this held no meaning to me, but fans of Rambo probably really will enjoy those stories in particular. The stories themselves did not make me want to rush out to read the other works.
I did expect to be in for a real treat. The first story in the collection (“Love, Resurrected”) had a great sentence that hooked me and I expected to be really enthralled: “Three years after her death, she still labored in his service.” But the story, a combination of exploring relationships and conflicts, paces evenly forward, not providing the highs and lows I typically enjoy in my reading.
So, too, with the rest.
One story stood out in this collection. “Coyote Barbie” was, perhaps, my favorite. Though it still held Rambo’s even pacing, the style of the story was unlike any of the others.
This book contains the following stories, with an ‘Afternotes’ following each story:
“The Toad’s Jewel”
“The Mage’s Gift”
“The Subtler Art”
“How Dogs Came to the New Continent”
“To Read the Sea”
“A Brooch of Bone, A Hint of Tooth”
“Call and Answer, Plant and Harvest”
“Her Windowed Eyes, Her Chambered Heart”
“The Coffeemaker’s Passion”
“Elections at Villa Encantada”
“Seven Clockwork Angels, All Dancing on a Pin”
“The Wizards of West Seattle”
“Summer Night in Durham”
“Web of Blood and Iron”
“So Glad We Had This Time Together”
“Snakes on a Train”
“The Passing of Grandmother’s Quilt”
Looking for a good book? Fans of Cat Rambo will enjoy this double-collection of short works, Neither Here Nor There, but new-comers will likely find this tremendously average.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
* * * * * *
Neither Her Nor There
author: Cat Rambo
publisher: Hydra House
paperback, 300 pages