Emerald Magic, edited by Andrew M. Greeley (Tor, 2004)

In Emerald Magic, the magical green hills of Ireland come alive in 15 stories focusing both on the long tradition of Irish fantasy, and on the creatures of Faerie which are so closely associated with Irish myth. The lineup represented in this collection is an all-star one, featuring some of the very best names in fantasy today.
Charles de Lint’s “The Butter Spirit’s Tithe” is classic de Lint: seven years ago, a musician got in trouble with a butter spirit, a rather cranky sort of household fairy, and now the butter spirit has come to collect what he believes is rightfully his. Only a desperate confrontation between mortal and fairy will end this once and for all, and it’ll take cunning, true love, and determination to win through. As always, de Lint writes some of the best modern fairy tales around, though his characters have become progressively less surprised by the unusual events which befall them. While I never balk at new de Lint stories, and often turn to them first when I spot them in magazines or anthologies, I have to wonder if there are any normal people left with whom we can sympathize in his world.
On a more humorous track, Diane Duane looks at an entirely different Irish myth in “Herself.” Legends have power, and sometimes, they come to life on their own. Featuring leprechauns, conveyor-sushi bars, the fate of the shoe industry, Ireland’s only superhero, the ghost of James Joyce, Anna Livia (goddess of the Liffey) and a diabolical green tiger, it’s a fairy tale inspired by a few too many at the pub. Pure genius. I found myself reading bits of this one out loud just to see how it sounded.
Ray Bradbury’s “Banshee” is a love story with a poignant, midnight edge to it, in which unfulfilled desire has kept a spirit trapped on Earth for far too long, far beyond the point of hope and redemption. Fred Saberhagen’s “A Drop of Something Special in the Blood” is a vampire story with an unusual genesis, suggesting an inspiration for a much more famous vampire tale.
Andrew Greeley turns in a story of his own: “Peace in Heaven?” in which the forces of Heaven and the creatures of the Fae finally conduct some long-overdue peace talks. Once they were all on the same side, until a war split them along ideological lines. A different kind of peace talks turn violent in Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple’s “Troubles.” Of all the stories in this volume, this is the one I want to see more of. Stemple and Yolen touch only briefly upon a secret world of an ongoing war between the Fae Courts in the New World, but what little we see hints at so much more, of a much greater plan.
Other contributors to this collection include Jacqueline Carey, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Elizabeth Haydon, Tanith Lee, Jane Lindskold, Morgan Llywelyn, L.E. Modesitt, Jr, Judith Tarr, and Peter Tremayne. Most of them are known for their takes either on fairy tales (such as Dart-Thornton’s brilliant Bitterbynde trilogy) or Irish myth (like Morgan Llywelyn’s beautifully-crafted novels.) Emerald Magic is an outstanding anthology with plenty to please even the most discerning of readers. If you like Irish-flavored fantasy or fairy tales of the classic variety, you can;t go wrong here.

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