RULES OF WAR AND OTHER STORIES by FRAN JACOBS
PB, 62 pages, Self-Published
I don’t normally review self-published books on Making Things Up For A Living, but I’ve known Fran for a long time and I know that any short story collection that bears her name, self-published or not, is going to be worth reading. This is a slim collection of five short stories, all of which have been previously published but have been brought into one handy volume for the first time.
Three of the stories feature faeries (“Midnight Market”, “Rules of War” and “Ume’s Lament”) and there’s a strong thread of melancholy through them that makes them all touching in different ways, that kind of bittersweet darkness the author excels at. Of the other two stories in the collection, “Medyna’s Choice” is a short prequel to the events written about in greater depth in the “Ellennessia’s Curse” trilogy. “Homecoming” is undoubtedly the highlight of a strong collection, dealing with the unusual subject in fantasy of what happens after the hero defeats the Big Bad and gets the obligatory princess, and what happens to the family he left behind to go a-questin’ in the first place.
Fran Jacobs writes with a particularly dense prose style that can become a little wearing over the length of a novel, but is perfect for bite-sized chunks, and this is a collection that doesn’t outstay its welcome. In fact, it would have been nice if it had been longer – this is a tantalizing glimpse of a talented short-story writer at work.