Reviewed by Stewart Horn
If you havenâ€™t encountered Jilly Paddockâ€™s fiction before, this is an excellent taster.Â A collection of short stories showcasing the strength and variety of her writing â€“ there is science fiction here, fantasy, horror, crime and folk tale, but not delineated by story.Â She is never afraid to stir genres together and create something new.
Her prose is consistently excellent, and she peoples her various worlds with brilliantly drawn characters.Â She writes especially good strong female leads.
The title story Dragon, Fly is a beautiful and melancholic folk tale.Â It has dragons in it but donâ€™t let that put you off â€“ thereâ€™s nothing twee about it.
Playing Possom is a ghost story, perhaps not entirely original but well-told and effective.
The Omnidirectional Woman is straight horror set firmly in the here and now, somewhat in the style of Stephen King.
She really gets into her stride with Death and Cai-Lee McGeoghan, darkly Lovecraftian and very creepy.Â Itâ€™s followed by a sequel of sorts The Serpentâ€™s Claw, set in the same place several hundred years in the future.Â Between them they tell an epic tale of the rise and fall of Galactic empires, but concisely and with a handful of characters.
A Cold terrible Place Filled with Stars is a mainstream but exciting sci-fi adventure with one of Ms. Paddockâ€™s trademark kick-ass heroines.
The Bride Carried Tigers has an interesting and slightly yucky premise that will resonate with anyone whoâ€™s ever been pregnant.
She finishes the collection off with two stories featuring Anna and Zenni â€“ a sort of superhero/witch/spy and her cyber-familiar – characters youâ€™ll recognise if youâ€™ve read To Die a Stranger.Â These were a treat for me, though others can judge how well they stand up as standalone stories.
Overall, a highly entertaining collection from an author too inventive and playful to be neatly pigeonholed.