Rum and Runestones by Valerie Griswold-Ford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Pirates and magic mix and meld in this fast-moving anthology from Dragon Moon Press. Most of them are good-sized stories without being lengthy, and all of them offer a dose of adventure. However, if I had stopped about halfway through this anthology, I wouldn't have been very impressed. The earlier stories all had fairly generic settings and/or plots, the silly story didn't work for me (though it had a few clever moments), and one just left me puzzled.
Get later into the anthology, and the quality of the stories increases sharply. In The Runes by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and At Map's End by Misty Massey tempted me with some intriguing settings and vividly drawn characters. I particularly enjoyed Tera Fulbright's History In The Making, which approaches the historical Grace O'Malley through the eyes of an inadvertent time traveller from a near-future earth - a really interesting blend and contrast of worlds. I also found elements to enjoy in Thar Be Magic by Laurel Anne Hill - a quirky take on pirates as childhood friends - and MJ Blehart's A Treacherous Stone, which provides a really interesting take on a certain classic pirate trope.
If I have a complaint about these favorite stories, it was that almost all of them felt as if they ended too soon. Most felt more like prologues, the beginning of an adventure, than a finished short story.
Overall, though, I enjoyed this read, particularly as I got into the later pages.
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