… the joys (and horrors) of gaslamp fantasy? Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells is an excellent anthology edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. Gaslamp stories have a magical element that are set in the Regency, Queen Victoria’s reign, and sometimes the early Edwardian era. Usually, they focus on Great Britain, but current and former British colonies are also fair game.
This collection features a mix of lighthearted, spooky, and even tragic tales from a variety of authors. Many of the big names of fantasy and horror are represented, including Elizabeth Bear, Tanith Lee, Gregory Maguire and Jane Yolen. In addition to magical terrors, they look at the real-life problems of spousal abuse, the treatment of women, and the horrific lives of many factory workers. From the elite to the well-off to the down-trodden, this collection covers all walks of life during this time period in a rich variety of writing styles. It is a fascinating look at a time of great wonders and great horrors, both real and imagined.
Reviewed by Fran (staff)