I forget how much I enjoy short stories. Often an anthology isn’t the first thing I pick up at the bookstore, but the experience of reading a well-curated collection is always satisfying. In the latest installment of her Magical Menageries series, editor Rhonda Parrish offered up the title Equus and invited writers to weave tales about mythical horses. The stories she’s assembled are varied in scope and tone, and they range in genre from pure fantasy to horror to science fiction. Generously infused with magic and mystery, these stories leaped off the pages and lingered in my imagination long after I finished the book.
Some notable highlights include “Neither Snow, Nor Rain, Nor Heat-Ray,” the story of a horse and rider turned war messengers after a Martian invasion. Fast-paced and tense, the tale has an old-school War of the Worlds feel to it. In “Rue the Day,” unicorn trainer, Galyne, is betrayed by an enemy spy posing as her bodyguard. But the magical beasts recognize the treachery and dispense their own brand of justice. Another unicorn story titled “Different” highlights the healing nature of the mythical beasts. The zen-like animal recognizes that one child doesn’t need healing and is perfect the way she is. In “Above the Silver Sky” flying horses are the only way out of a dying village with a broken sky. Dark and dangerous, “Eli the Hideous Horse Boy” finds Taryn, a small town waitress and librarian, running for her life with the carnival side-show ‘freak.’ Loki features in two of the stories, “A Complete Mare” and “Scatter the Foals to the Wind,” each a fresh take on the Norse god’s horse-like hybrid descendants. Horror and humor combine to make “The Boys of Witless Bay” my personal favorite. Childhood friends Paulie and Jimmie run straight into trouble when they discover that Ecobay Corporation is dumping toxic waste into Dunker’s Pond, home of the neighborhood kelpie. The swamp horse is none too pleased and kidnaps townspeople and Ecobay employees alike, until Paulie brokers a solution.
The Equus stories are as unique as the colors of a horse’s coat. Captivating, haunting, and memorable, this anthology has something for everyone. Published by World Weaver Press, Equus releases on July 18th.
About the Editor: Rhonda Parrish was the founder and editor-in-chief of Niteblade Magazine, is an Assistant Editor at World Weaver Press, and is the editor of several anthologies including, most recently, Sirens and D is for Dinosaur. In addition, Rhonda is a writer whose work has been included or is forthcoming in dozens of publications including Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast, Imaginarium: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing (2012 & 2015), and Mythic Delirium. Her website, updated weekly, is at rhondaparrish.com.