Red Phone Box: A Darkly Magical Story Cycle
Edited by Salomé Jones
Published by: Ghostwoods Books
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Page count: 368
Source: Received copy via TLC Tours in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: November 2013
Sinister forces roam London’s streets, skulking through the neon-lit rain. They are not alone. Haunted by memories of the man who abandoned her, Amber goes walking in the deep night. The phone box she enters takes her on a journey she could never have imagined, one in which the past and the future will be rewritten. Others follow in her footsteps, their lives intertwining, and the fate of the world hanging on their dance. Safran, pawn of unfathomable powers. Jon, who has lived and died and lived again. Gloria, who only intended to annoy her daddy. Cory, from a different world, on a desperate quest for allies. They and others will find themselves swept up as the playthings of gods who have managed to get along peacefully for millennia — until now. Red Phone Box is a darkly magical story cycle, a network of interweaving tales by a dazzling range of masterful authors, includingGun Machine’s Warren Ellis. Let them take you to a very different London — one that hides on the other side of the fractured glass.
The Red Phone Box story cycle is one of the most imaginative and unique stories I have read in a long time.
I can only begin to imagine how much time and hard work went into assembling this collection. I’ve had some experience with anthologies myself and I know how difficult it can be to organize a project around so many different contributor’s – each with their own schedule and deadlines. But what Salomé Jones has done with Red Phone Box is on a whole different level. This isn’t just a random selection of stories. Instead this book is made up of various pieces of a larger puzzle. And each piece carries the distinct style of it’s author. Jones has arranged the stories in such a way that the story unfolds slowly for the reader, the mystery building bit by bit.
Some of the stories were incredibly interesting. I particularly enjoyed the story of Amber, Stuart and Jon and how each installment left you wondering what was real and what was imaginary. And I liked how the characters Amber/Stuart/Jon interacted with would pop up in other stories. It kept me alert, constantly looking for clues or hints dropped by the various contributors. You never knew exactly where each story was going to take you – only that the mysterious Red Phone Box was going to show up at some point.
However, while some of the stories were fascinating, others left me wanting more. The characters would come out of nowhere, or the plot would be jerky or just plain confusing and sometimes the style itself just didn’t work for me. I found myself either loving a story or wanting to skim through it. There wasn’t a lot of middle ground, which made some parts of the anthology feel disjointed. Had some of the rogher stories been smoothed out a bit more I think this collection could have been truly great, but ultimately it fell just a little short of that goal.
At it’s heart Red Phone Box is a very atmospheric and dark story. Image Doctor Who and the TARDIS but much darker and more disturbing. It’s a great concept and will keep you on your toes. If you’re looking for a more unusal read or one that will allow you to flex your puzzle solving skills, this is the book for you. But if you prefer more straightforward narratives you may want to pass.
Thanks to the lovely people at TLC tours and Ghostwoods Books I have one copy of Red Phone Box to giveaway. Just fill out the Rafflecopter below! (Open US/Can only)
About the Editor
Salomé Jones has an MFA in creative writing from Pacific University, Oregon, and an M.A. in writing from Roehampton University in London, UK. She loves the mixture of highbrow and lowbrow fiction and almost quit her MFA program when she was advised that genre-writing was a waste of her talent. “Genre writing is my talent,” says Jones. She’s currently working on her own novel, also a mix of literary and fantasy. She lives in London with her partner and a dire lack of cats, hopefully soon to be remedied.