3 out of 4 stars
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Being a night owl, I'm often my most creative at night when I can't – or won't – sleep, so I was fascinated with the idea for The Golden Helm, More Tales from the Edge of Sleep by Victoria Randall. A collection of twelve short tales, this tome is comprised of fantasy and sci-fi stories that can come to you in the night. Even though it is a follow-up to the book, Shadowcat, Tales from the Edge of Sleep, it obviously stands on its own.
I absolutely loved this compendium and was saddened when it was over. Each of the stories is quirky in its own way, with some being rather hair-raising and others being somewhat funny. Regardless, they are all fascinating with the perfect blend of suspense, action, and dialogue. While I won't summarize all of the stories, I will mention my favorites:
The title story, The Golden Helm, is a great read about a man who is tasked with keeping a magical helmet safe. The helmet imbues its wearer with great powers. You'll have to read this tale to find out if Aidan gives in to the power or does the right thing. Incident in the Library is a funny little story about a girl in the library who is confronted with a rat-like alien who wants books on American history as it pertains to war. This tale has a really amusing resolution, and I had to take a few minutes to breathe before continuing on. Finally, my favorite story by far was Parenthood by Choice Inc. Invests in a Time Machine. During the time of the Virgin Mary, an older woman appears in Mary's village and is out to “help” all pregnant women so that they can have happier and more fulfilling lives. This woman tricks Mary into her house. Does she succeed in her quest to “help” Mary, thereby altering Christianity as we know it? Or does Mary keep to her promise? There's only one way for you to find out; read this book.
Since each story was so short, the author didn't spend much time on character development. I didn't mind, though, as I felt I knew enough about each person or creature to enjoy the story for what it was. Honestly, just the presence of a unicorn or dragon or wolf made each story great anyhow. Since I already know the basics of these animals, I was well able to imagine the dragons flying around, the unicorn drinking water, and the wolf howling. The settings for each story were also given short shrift, but I didn't find the lack of more descriptions to be an issue either.
What I did find to be a bit of an issue were the numerous grammatical errors, mostly due to punctuation, with commas missing in many places. While it wasn't a major annoyance, it did interrupt the flow somewhat. I therefore recommend that Ms. Randall have this book proofread another time. With her easy writing minus the excessive flourish common to such stories, perfect editing would make this book A+ material.
Because I loved this compilation so much, it is with sadness that I have to give it 3 out of 4 stars due to the grammatical missteps noted above. Even so, I highly recommend it for older readers who are not easily spooked; while I wouldn't consider any of the stories really “scary”, I'm also somewhat immune to fearful literature, so I'd rather err on the side of caution. I also recommend The Golden Helm to fans of fantasy, sci-fi, and short stories. If you suffer from insomnia, this is just the book to get you through, though you may want to be careful which stories you try, lest you never cross the edge into sleep.
The Golden Helm
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