These interconnected stories are set in an opulent quasi-historical world of magick and high manners called the Republic of Califa. The Republic is a strangely familiar place - a baroque approximation of Gold Rush era-California with an overlay of Aztec ceremony - yet the characters who populate it are true originals: rockstar magicians, murderous gloves, bouncing boy terrors, blue tinted butlers, sentient squids, and a three-year-old Little Tiny Doom and her vengeful pink plush pig.
By turn whimsical and horrific (sometime in the same line), Wilce's stories have been characterized as "screwball comedies for goths", but they could also be described as "historical fantasies" or "fanciful histories" for there are nuggets of historical fact hidden in them there lies.
I haven't read Ysabeau S. Wilce's other work so I wasn't familiar with the world of Califa or the author's writing style before I started this. The first thing that caught my attention was the great language and word choice in these stories. It was a bit jarring during the first story but by the second I was intrigued and loving it. The characters are so interesting and I've fallen in love with the world of Califa and all its magic. I was craving for more by the end of the book. Needless to say I'm going to look into the author's other titles because I think I'm hooked.
Great worldbuilding, unique writing style. Took me a bit to get used to the narration but I eventually decided I liked it. The "after words" to each short story are hilarious.
Any additional comments?
I don't usually like short story collections. I prefer nice long stories I can get lost in. But, I am fascinated with the land of Califa, so I took a chance. The stories are mixed, some characters we've met in the Flora books, some not. I enjoyed learning more about Tiny Doom and Pig as well as the origins of Springheel Jack. I liked the 'police procedural' story as well. All in all, a nice sampling, buffet style, from the author.