Rating: 4 Stars
Eleven lesbian/bisexual paranormal short stories…
Reborn by Brooklyn Ray – Dark magic, mystical bloodlines, a living forest, and two women fighting to reclaim a love they lost.
Zero Hour by J.C. Long – She can’t outrun the full moon.
Dove in the Window by Kara Race-Moore – As if the Great Depression wasn’t bad enough, Cissy’s first love is back from the dead.
Bottom of the River by Samantha Kate – The demon isn’t always the monster.
If You Want to Walk by Nicole Field – Follow Chess into the Underneath and meet the strange creatures she finds there.
A Tended Garden by J.P. Jackson – Immortality or humanity—which one will win out in the end?
Romancing the Healer by Caitlin Ricci – In a deadly snowstorm a werewolf needs all the help she can get, and the werebear coming to her aid is more than she appears to be.
Midnight Kisses by L.J. Hamlin – A local witch, a new-to-town werewolf, and a mystery to be solved.
Like a Bell through the Night by Kayla Bashe – Guarding a faerie princess? All in a day’s work for a werewolf bodyguard. Avoiding falling in love with said princess? The hardest mission of Jaffa’s life.
The Imp in the Rock by Charli Coty – The cure for a bad breakup might be magic.
Smile Like You Mean It by Tay LaRoi – Ingrid meets a terrifying Japanese legend, but the stories are all wrong.
I must admit, I wasn't entirely sure how to go about reviewing an anthology, so this may be a little different from my usual reviews.
Like any anthology, this collection has a lot to do with personal taste. A story that one person loves won't quite hit the spot for someone else. There were a couple of stories that were a firm 3 stars for me, but I can see on Goodreads that other people really connected with those stories. I think it's safe to say that Into the Mystic will have something for everyone. And geez it's good to see more genre fiction out there!
While all stories are F/F, you'll find a range of representation, with gender neutral characters, bisexual, lesbian, and pansexual characters as well. It was great to see one story that included a F/F story featuring a trans character who is 100% accepted as a woman by her lesbian love interest. Our community is diverse, as are our experiences of identity and self. Diverse stories, as such, are wonderful.
My personal favourites in the collection were 'Dove in the Window' by Kara Race-Moore, and 'A Tended Garden' by J.P. Jackson.
Race-Moore's story is a peculiar combination of realism and fantasy, set during the Depression but with the protagonist exploring magical elements of the world around her as though they're completely normal. Loss is one of the key themes and ultimately hope is what helps our protagonist find a way to move forward despite the trauma she's experienced. It's a story with a tinge of sweetness about it, mixed in with lovely 1930s ambience.
Jackson's story lives up the wonderful fantasy descriptions I've come to expect from him after reading his novel, Daimonion. This story centres on a well-established witches coven harbouring a dark secret. At first I thought this tale might get into "stereotypical evil witches" territory, but that wasn't the case. As with any group of people in society, it only takes one twisted heart to taint what ought to be a loving community. I especially loved the creativity of the magic in the story. My heart ached for the wood nymphs in this story and I thoroughly enjoyed their overall representation.
You get great return for your investment with an anthology like this. The stories are long enough to be interesting and complex, yet short enough to be devoured at whatever pace you prefer.