Category Archives: reviews and literary criticism

Another review of ABOVE KER-IS AND OTHER STORIES

Mario Guslandi has weighed in with a nice assessment of Above Ker-Is and Other Stories:

“The book is a delightful collection of charming, stylish fiction probing the darker side of the human condition. Not to be missed.”

See the full review here at SFRevu.

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Some more notices of recent reviews

The January 2013 issue of Locus has a very nice review by Stefan Dziemianowicz of Above Ker-Is and Other Stories. Here are a few extracts:

“Most of Walton’s short stories are, like her novels, seamless blends of history, myth, and local color. The first three in the book are period tales, set in Brittany, and featuring men and women whose passionate and tempestuous relationships recapitulate the experiences of characters of classic lore and legend. In the title tale, two lovers replay a contemporary version of the legend of Princess Ahes, who was sacrificed to the sea after having caused the inundation of her kingdom, Ker-Is, for the sake of a lover. ‘‘The Judgment of St. Yves’’ tells of an estranged husband and wife who, through a dark and ancient cultural tradition, invoke the judgment of the titular saint, knowing that it means the death of whomever of them is judged in the wrong. ‘‘The Mistress of Kaer-Mor’’ features yet another strong Walton heroine who, under the influence of a cursed dwelling, repeats a tragedy from the past. These stories are memorable for their depictions of people caught in the web of their seemingly preordained fates, and for their well-wrought descriptions that capture the characters in beautiful imagery (‘‘She sparkled like sunlit water’’).

In some of her stories, Walton tantalizes the reader with the possibility that seemingly supernatural events have a perfectly logical explanation. . . .

It’s not clear how aggressively Walton attempted to market her short stories – probably not very – and only one of them was published close to the time that it was written. A handful saw print in fantasy anthologies in the early 1980s, decades after Walton had become so frustrated with the difficulties of short story construction that she gave up writing them altogether. This slim, thoughtfully organized book is a wonderful addition to Walton’s bibliography, and it gives readers a taste of what she might have achieved had she stuck to the short fiction path.”

(The full review is not online.)

And the SF Site has a review by Mario Guslandi of The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror volume 23, which ends with the following:

“Finally, the gem of the book is Evangeline Walton’s “They That Have Wings” a masterpiece depicting how three men seeking safety from war in the mountains meet two weird and hungry women. Posthumously published only in 2011, the story, rejected by Weird Tales because it was “too gory,” is actually a piece of terrible beauty and great finesse. “

The full review can be found here.

Some other exciting things are in the works.  Watch for announcements in the next few months!

Some reviews of ABOVE KER-IS AND OTHER STORIES

Laurie Lee Smith, in Mythprint, November 2012:

“Across varying styles and genres, each story in the collection explores the connections be-tween mortals and what we might call Faërie. The supernatural forces are diverse and ambiguous: some seem nearly demonic; others may be morally neutral, or even beneficent; and still others may be wholly illusory. But the question remains the same in each case: can mere mortals respond without losing their lives, their humanity, their moral compass?   The stories are generally well told . . .  “Werwolf” may be the single best of the collection; it stood out as a story that bears close re-reading. But the Breton trilogy, which consists of the title story, “The Judgment of St. Yves,” and “The Mistress of Kaer-Mor,” is almost mesmerizing. These three are more lyrical in tone than the others, and they come across as delicately intertwined because each provides a different perspective on the persistence of the ancient Breton legend of Ahes (also known as Dahut) in a Christian era. Walton appears to have chosen to work with versions of the legend in which Ahes is—or becomes—a demon sea goddess, although other versions exist; she noted once in an interview that she preferred to “put flesh and blood on the bones of the original myth” rather than contradicting her sources. . . .   All told, Above Ker-Is is a surprisingly well-rounded collection of a single author’s fantasy stories; it is well worth reading, and re-reading.”

Kenneth W. Faig, in EOD Letter, August 2012:

“Ms. Walton never visited Brittany herself, but the first several stories, with Breton settings, show her great emotional depth and skill with folklore. The story that captured my attention most was ‘They That Have Wings’.”

Richard C. West on Amazon:

“Of the ten short stories here, four have not previously been published and the others appeared only in magazines and anthologies that are not easily available, so it is convenient to have them collected in one place. Like most of Walton’s work, these are fantasy stories (in only one, “Werwolf,” is the apparently supernatural given a possibly rational explanation). Moreover, these are horror stories–hence more like _Witch House_ (1945) than any of her other novels. The first three (including the title story) deal with the Breton legend of the sunken city of Ys (but treat this in very different ways), then Russian, Celtic, and Greek folklore are each used in two stories apiece, and the final tale, “The Other One,” is a highly original variation on the doppelganger motif. They are rich in atmosphere, the settings are evocatively described, and all are very well-written. Highly recommended to anyone who likes dark fantasy.”

TermiteWriter (Lorinda J. Taylor) on Amazon:

“There is a lot of power in the collection “Above Ker-Is” and the book is recommended to anyone interested in myth and folktale, in the paranormal, and in horror fiction.”

Click here to order via Amazon and to see the full Amazon reviews.

Recent scholarship on Walton’s writings

Welsh Mythology and Folklore in Popular Culture, 2011

A new scholarly study, Welsh Mythology and Folklore in Popular Culture: Essays on Adaptations in Literature, Film, Television and Digital Media, edited by Audrey L. Becker and Kristin Noone, (McFarland & Co, 2011) opens with three articles about Evangeline Walton’s Mabinogion tetralogy. The three articles are:

“‘The Rough, Savage Strength of Earth’: Evangeline Walton’s Human Heroes and Mythic Spaces”, by Kristin Noone

“Branwen’s Shame: Voicing the Silent Feminine in Evangeline Walton’s The Children of Llyr“, by Nicole A. Thomas

“Disavowing Maternity in Evangeline Walton’s The Virgin and the Swine: Fantasy Meets the Social Protest Fiction of the 1930s”, by Deborah Hooker