Review: “February Thaw,” Tanya Huff

Pros: Stellar!
Cons:
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

 

February Thaw is another relatively short, inexpensive ebook anthology of Tanya Huff short stories. And much like He Said, Sidhe Said and (especially) Swan’s Braid, it is worth every penny and then some.

February Thaw: Persephone has had a fight with her husband, Hades, and gone home to her mother, Demeter. Spring has come unfortunately early, and Demeter isn’t happy to have her relaxing winter cut short. She’s going to have to have words with that son-in-law of hers if she wants things to go back to their almost-happy normal. The Greek gods have always been good for extremely human melodrama, and the nature of the marital spat is just fantastic. Demeter, in particular, is a breath of fresh air.

Burning Bright: A young woman finds out she isn’t what she thinks she is… and she wants to go back to being just a young woman. It’ll take all of the wizards in the world–minus the one who died, of course–to figure out how to replicate the feat that made her human in the first place. I love the two young women who star in this one. Their friendship crosses wonderful boundaries in quirky ways.

“A group of wizards together is called an argument.”
“Like a flock of geese?”
“Amazingly similar.”

When the Student is Ready: This tale is sort of a follow-on to the previous one, although taking part in a different part of the world with almost entirely different characters. A young woman is becoming the next wizard, and that puts her in great danger until she gets her powers under control. Coming to her rescue is the unlikely figure of a rambling, addled homeless man who’s willing to take her on as his apprentice–if he can keep his thoughts together long enough. It’s a wizard’s apprentice story unlike any other I’ve read, with delightful characters and an awesome talking crow.

Jack is a modern-day adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk in which Jack trades a leather jacket for three magic guitar picks, and then tries to save a pretty young singer from a fate worse than death. Jack and his band buddies are hilarious, and I love the quandary the woman finds herself in and how she reacts to it.

Symbols are a Percussion Instrument: A busy and thoroughly modern woman gets dragged into a psychic reading by a friend. When she refuses to stick around for the reading, however, the cards get heavy-handed about delivering their messages. She needs to figure out how to reach beyond the everyday for the meaning of symbolism if she’s going to sidestep a potentially nasty ending. Not only is this a delightfully whimsical and funny story, but there was enough tension to really grip me, which is hard to do in a story this abstract! Huff brought it to life marvelously.

Shing Li-ung: This is a beautiful story of cultural heritage and magical protection that brought tears to my eyes. A young woman is given a mysterious talisman by her dying grandmother, but her brother may need the protection much more than she does.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream Team: Sam is a camera operator at the Olympics, and she starts seeing competitors who aren’t on the program and don’t match any nation she’s ever heard of. Before long she’s taking it nearly in stride, but there’s one event left: basketball. And the fairies don’t plan to let the winner of the final game go unchallenged. On the surface this isn’t my usual type of story, but it’s handled so well through Sam’s choleric nature that it… just works.

 

I’m having so much fun catching up with Tanya Huff’s short stories in her ebook anthologies. I hope she keeps producing them!

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