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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tight Within the Grasp of Insignia

I told myself I'd never review an anthology.

There are too many authors involved. How do you review the works of so many people, and still ensure that they all get the attention they deserve?

But then I found an anthology on Scrbd that I wanted to read. I figured I'd just read a story or two every now and then, while continuing on with the ebooks I intended to review.

But then I kept reading.

And reading.

After a while, I decided to change my mind. I'd review an anthology.

image via http://insigniaseries.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/insigniavol1-cover-7a.jpg
Artwork by Peter Serkov

Insignia, Volume 1: Japanese Fantasy Stories is a collection of short stories by Aislinn Batstone, Heather Jensen, Holly Kench, Chris Ward, Joyce Chng, Chris White, and Kelly Matsuura (who is also the editor and cover designer).

The Insignia series supports the need for diversity in literature, and each story is written by authors that have a passion for Japanese culture. The anthology is broken into two parts: YA and General Adult.

So what's it about?

Part I:
Ancient promises broken, resulting in pain and sorrow. A girl near the end of her life, guided by a spirit wolf on a quest to destroy a monster. A girl oppressed by a calculating beast whose true form only she can see. Friends separated by cruel circumstances, yet bound together through magic and love.
Part 2:
Death, persecution, and crime draw a father and son together. A man returns from war a shell of the person he once was, and brings a powerful gift back with him. A man discovers a bathhouse set apart from the brightly lit, constantly moving city life, and discovers it's more than it appears to be. A man watches his soulmate from the other side, yearning to bring her across the threshold to be with him forever.

Wow, right?!

I really loved this anthology. As in any collection of stories, I liked some better than others, as is to be expected. In most anthologies, there seems to be one story that I consider vastly inferior to the others. In this one, however, I did not have that reaction. I liked every single one, and could easily read them all a second time.

Of course, I do have my favorite. 

I found The Bakeneko to be particularly gripping. Read that one right before bed. The menace within The Bakeneko is particularly strong when you begin the story in the same way the protagonist did: wrapped within your blankets.

The stories within Insignia, Volume 1 were rich and engaging, and each author's voice was so unique that I had no problem switching from one to the next: I easily slid from one author's world into another.

I highly recommend this one.

You can download a copy of Insignia, Volume 1 from the Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords stores, as well as from Scribd.

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