Gale, Ephiny. Next Curious Thing. Foxgrove Press. 2018. $10.83. 200p. PB. ISBN 978-0-9954353-1-5
“We don’t yet have the technology that allows me to project my imagination out through my eyes, so I have to make do with words and shadow puppets and hope you see the pictures anyway.” (p. 14)
“Give me my next curious thing…and at the end of the day if I’m still not satisfied? I can come up with a multitude of curious things all on my own.” (p. 8)
Next Curious Thing offers a compilation of Ephiny Gale’s work from 2013 through 2018. Fans of Gale’s work will find past favorites such as “Easy Like Arsenic”, “Cavorts With Foxes”, “Five Tales of Rose Palace”, “In The Beginning, All Our Hands Are Cold”, and many others. For those unfamiliar with Gale’s work, Next Curious Thing wastes no time in acclimating you to Gale’s writing style which combines dark fairy tales, science fiction, and fantasy into heartwarming and sometimes bone-chilling short stories. Gale’s stories tackle mainstream fantasy/fairy tale themes through creative storytelling that attempts to depict the answer to such questions as why children are taken by fairy creatures in fairy tales and folklore, what the importance of a rose is, and what if The Light Princess did not weigh very little but rather was a bright light?
Gale’s non-heteronormative marriage shines through in these stories. If you make assumptions about sexual orientation or character identity while reading, you will surely find yourself surprised. Even with the growing movement in the publishing industry to increase representation of diverse identities, I can’t say I have seen these representations depicted so beautifully in this fairy tale format.
This book is recommended for anyone interested in nontraditional fairy tales mixed with science fiction and fantasy.