Monday, November 25, 2013
Forgotten Menagerie Anthology
A shifter leads two lives: one as a human, and one as an animal. Sometimes these lives are intertwined, and sometimes they are not, but always the shifter has to find a way to reconcile one with the other. Forgotten Menagerie reminds us that not all shifters are werewolves or werecats, despite the preponderance of them in fiction. The stories in this anthology focus on shifters with animal forms other than canine and feline, building their own mythos for these non-traditional species.
In Nuts About You, Nathan's been crushing on one of his regular Bulk Mart customers for a while now. In squirrel form, he sits on Vince's bird feeders, munching on seeds and enjoying the eye candy. Until the day Vince notices him raiding the feeder... Then, in The Greatest of These, Daniel struggles to deal with his new-found sexuality and his Catholic faith. He's already overcome the question of how otter shifters fit into God's plans, but the next step is so much harder. After all, people don't picket about otters burning in Hell. Eber's shifting in Mirrors, the Moon, and the Boy is a curse carried by his family for nearly 500 years, but he's found a sexy side to it that makes him popular at the elite club "Conquistador" in Madrid. His legendary prowess inevitably leads to questions about why he's never there on the full moon. And when he begins to explore a budding connection with young American Miguel, the stakes get even higher if Eber's secret is ever revealed.
Dobson needs his Burdens Lightened, as he has a farm that's too big for one man and has to work construction to keep it paid for. The boss's nephew, Jim, is on the crew this summer—his father's idea to sweat the gay out of him. But Jim wants Dobson, and the feeling is mutual. To the point that Dobson is about to show a part of himself to Jim that no one has ever seen and that only the right person can see. Finally, Carter is eager to sever ties with the ignorant lout who married his sister and thereby owns half of the family ranch, but the only way to do that is to beat his brother-in-law to the cattle auction. That means a trip through Dangerous Territory full of hard terrain, venomous snakes, and flash floods. Fortunately, a deal with the local shifter tribe earns Carter a guide, the stern and humorless Rani, who has his own reasons for coming along.
All of these stories were really great. I really enjoyed most of them and I would read a couple of them again. If I had to pick favorites, it would be Nuts About You and Burdens Lightened. The reactions of Nathan and Dobson when they are found out adds to their stories and makes the endings that much sweeter. Over-all this is a great collection.
4½ Smooches for the Forgotten Menagerie anthology. You can find it here.