"Make Love, Not War" by Lee C. Hillman
"Heart of Vengeance" by Den C. Wilson
"Ballad of the Seven Up Sprite" by Brian Koscienski & Chris Pisano
"Snow in July" by Jeff Lyman
"House Arrest" by Keith R.A. DeCandido
"A Pressing Problem" by Donald W. Schank
"Hidden in the Folds" by Jesse Harris
"Pennidreadful" by Lorne Dixon
"On Oberon’s Throne" by L. Jagi Lamplighter
"Sally Smiles" by James Chambers
"The Faerie Queen of Lo Mein" by Vincent Collins
"Hollow Dreams" by Elaine Corvidae
"Wings of Soul" by R. Allen Leider
"At the Crossroads" by Danielle Ackley-McPhail
"Down These Mean Streets a Faerie Must Go" by John Sunseri
"ENDGAME" by Patrick Thomas
"The Last Night of the Lazarus Brothers" by CJ Henderson
Bad-Ass Faeries is a themed anthology edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Lee Hillman, and Jeff Lyman. The central conceit is that fairies exist in our everyday world and impact our lives in known and unknown ways. As you’d expect, the results are a mixed bag.
"Bad-Ass Faeries" by Monica Richards opens the anthology with a tale of two tribes of female faeries at war over who shall possess the green man, the sole male faerie, when he emerges from hibernation. As they skirmish across the meadow, they causally destroy the works of the humans in their way. It seems that yet another developer is trying to build condos in the faeries’ meadow. As quickly as the construction crews clear the land and dig trenches, the fairies replace the dirt and replant the trees. When the developer himself comes late at night to catch the vandals, he gets a rude shock. Great fun stuff to set the tone for this anthology.
"Futuristic Cybernetic Faerie Assassin Hassballah" by Adam P. Knave is, as it sounds, an entertaining bit of nonsense about a cyborg faerie hit man who takes an assignment on a particularly nasty ogre. But all is not as it seems as schemes within schemes unfold. In the end, Hassballah wins the day, but with a delightful twist.
"Make Love, Not War" by Lee C. Hillman is an odd, meandering tale about the battle of the (faerie) sexes. The male and female faerie tribes live apart and are at war. Allegedly, the males are raiding and destroying the females’ eggs—for reasons unstated. A young, female faerie, Briarthorn, is captured by the males and learns a "secret," but sadly, this "secret" just leaves the reader puzzled, as it makes no more sense than the separation of the males and females into warring tribes in the first place.
"Heart of Vengeance" by Den C. Wilson is a unique tale, even among these, that struggles a bit in the beginning before hitting its stride. Professor Wright, a fantasy author at a sci-fi convention, is drafted by several young folk who are being pursued by Lakota Indian faeries on the warpath. These youngsters have stolen a sacred item and kidnapped one of the tribe. By the end, this becomes a rousing tale of action and adventure but suffers from a slow, unfocused start and several typos on the first page.
"Ballad of the Seven Up Sprite" by Brian Koscienski & Chris Pisano is a fun take on the great westerns of years gone by, set in faerieland. Seven Up Sprite is the Shane in the rough and tumble prairie town, riding in to dispense justice out of the barrel of his wand. But there’s treachery afoot! Can Seven Up save the day while avoiding the foul back-shootings and bush whackings?
"Snow in July" by Jeff Lyman is a tale of a different sort of warfare. The forest pixies are engaged in a running conflict with birds and have always had the advantage because of their magic. That is, until the Witch of Southern Mill provides the birds with magic of their own. And so the true war starts, birds versus pixies. While the tale doesn’t answer all the questions it raises, it posits them eloquently.
"House Arrest" by Keith R.A. DeCandido is a wonderful detective noir tale in the tradition of Raymond Chandler‘s Philip Marlowe. The homeowner’s son is dead, murdered! And it is up to Lieutenant Torin of the local constabulary to sweat the truth out of the prime suspect, the owner’s house elf. He had the opportunity, but what motive did he have? The answer is pure, hard-boiled fiction.
"A Pressing Problem" by Donald W. Shank is another fun bit of nonsense from the mob genre. Mr. Caravan is a publisher of anything that sells, be it pornography, bloody tales of war and crime (complete with color glossy photos), or UFO exposés. But when he ponders a new project on faeries, he is visited by a faerie enforcer in double-breasted suit and snap-brimmed fedora. The faerie council does not want the publicity, so the enforcer makes him an offer he cannot refuse. And when he does refuse? Bloody disaster!
"Hidden in the Folds" by Jesse Harris is a retelling of a classic Japanese folktale about the treacherous tengu, a Japanese imp of legend. When a ronin encounters this fellow in a Buddhist temple dressed as a monk, the poor samurai is confused. But when the imp casts his spell of illusion, the masterless samurai finds himself in deathly peril. And so the true battle is joined in proper Japanese form.
"Pennidreadful" by Lorne Dixon is the darkest tale of this anthology. When Hajime’s wife dies under suspicious circumstances, he calls his college buddy, Vasilli, for help. With the help of Vasilli’s ossuary faerie, Pennidreadful (who reanimate corpses), they plan an alibi for Hajime with his wife "dying" in a very public accident. But Pennidreadful has her own agenda after she reads the dead wife’s last thoughts. A nice tale of the left hand of justice.
"On Oberon’s Throne" by L. Jagi Lamplighter is a fine tale of the mischief-maker faerie, Puck, and how his plots to take advantage of King Oberon’s absence backfires. In the end, Puck schemes his way free, but we’re left wondering how much was actually Lord Oberon’s intent all along. If you enjoyed Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, you’ll enjoy this tale.
"Sally Smiles" by James Chambers is an odd, unfocused tale of a young lady who accidentally helped a faerie create an identity when she was a child and is forced to return to that persona. When her boyfriend interferes, he suffers. The tale ends abruptly without reaching any conclusion.
"The Faerie Queen of Lo Mein" by Vincent Collins suggests that a faerie may spontaneously germinate out of modern technology, like electricity for example. We follow such a creature as she explores her urban home in a rambling vignette. When a city rat invades her turf, it’s war for possession of the leftover scrapes of food. Although it’s unclear why she would need leftover Chinese in the first place.
"Hollow Dreams" by Elaine Corvidae pits a street gang in the midst of a burglary against the resident house faerie. They break into the local bootlegger’s home after he’s arrested and run afoul of the housekeeper faerie who ensorcells the gang with pleasant visions as he plots their demise. But he doesn’t count on one of the gang being a changeling, half faerie and half human, with an array of magic of his own.
"Wings of Soul" by R. Allen Leider is a fun if predictable tale about faerie Diddybelle and her human partner, Mojo Priestess Mama Simone of Harlem. It is Mama’s niece’s birthday today, and Diddybelle has agreed to grant the young lady one wish. The girl surprises them all by wishing for the local drug dealer to be banished from their project complex.
"At The Crossroads" by Danielle Ackley-McPhail is one of the true gems in Bad-Ass Faeries. Lance is a half fae, half human motorcycle gang leader. His girlfriend, Suzanne, is a full blooded fae, as is her brother, Gavin—Lance’s best friend and lieutenant. But the faerie establishment dislikes any faerie who fraternizes with humans and despises mixed bloods like Lance. So they send the Black Fae and his minions to execute them. A fine, exciting tale with compelling characters.
"Down These Mean Streets A Faerie Must Go" by John Sunseri is another hard-boiled noir tale. Private Eye Blossom is drafted by Dectective Shanahan of the local constabulary when a faerie turns up dead, a suicide. For an immortal creature, this is unheard of, and so Blossom and the Detective are off on a twisting trail of hatred, racism, and planned genocide as the simple death turns into a plot against all faerie folk. Very much in the tradition of Dashiell Hammett’s finest tales.
"ENDGAME" by Patrick Thomas is a murder mystery built around a terrible pun. Terrorbelle pursues a magical serial killer in the mean streets of New York. The killer is a symbiosis of human and demon with a particularly gruesome MO. This beast gives the phrase "talking out your ass" a whole new meaning.
"The Last Night of the Lazarus Brothers" by CJ Henderson is a wonderful mishmash of mythologies tied up in a bizarre tale of exploitation and murder, and the best tale in this anthology. Ghosts, faeries, Jesus, Allah, and Mother Nature are all caught up in a supernatural plot to destroy humanity. Private Detective Paul Morcey must solve the mystery of the missing faeries while coping with a new magical street drug that has dire effects.
Overall, this is a fine summer read for anyone looking for a large dose of faerie magic of all stripes. While occasionally uneven, the anthology is certainly worthy of your time.
Paperback: 216 pages