The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet

Do you ever think gosh, I'm a real dope? I especially feel that way when I discover something that I love and I wonder why I waited so long to get on the bandwagon. Take for instance chocolate. I used to hate it. Just loathe it. I wouldn't eat anything chocolate had touched. Then one day I had some excellent chocolate and my eyes were opened. The same thing happened when I picked up a copy of The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet unexpected tales of the fantastic and other odd musings.

I've been reading stories from the zine Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet for ages, usually in anthologies like The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, but I'd never gotten around to subscribing. Now I wish I'd been getting it all along. The collection contains many fabulous short stories, some fantastic poetry and some intriguing, random lists, like names of tea that has graced the LCRW office over the years. I found the inclusion of the lists a charming touch.

My youngest son, a junior in high school, asked me to read a poem called A is for Apple: An Easy Reader by Amy Beth Forbes, which is a narrative poem that left me with chills. It's a beautifully done tragic story that impressed me with how perfectly it progressed, with shades of Flowers for Algernon. We also both enjoyed My Father's Ghost, a poem by Mark Rudolph about a man haunted by his father, who is definitely no Hamlet's father. It's quite a short poem but packs a wallop.

Everyone in my household was thrilled by a short story simply called Bay by David Erik Nelson. It's very simple, which somehow makes it that much more horrifying. A man is in a bar, in the wake of a tragic event, when he meets a familiar young man who proceeds to tell him a ghost story about a haunted dog. This is a brilliant story that absolutely gave me the willies. Another story I really liked is The Pirate's True Love by Seana Graham, a charming look at what happens when women get tired of pining after their men who have gone to sea yet again.

Confused by the whole shaken not stirred/only barbarians shake controversy? Worry no longer my friend, because the Best of LCRW also contains a little piece called How to Make a Martini that will answer any possible question you have now or may have in the future.

I was tickled pink by The Well-Dressed Wolf by Lawrence Schimel & Sara Rojo. It's a little tour through some popular fairy tales with amusing commentary and delightful pictures. I've never really thought about the cross-dressing proclivities of a certain wolf before.

Speaking of the wolf who likes to cross-dress, Serpents by Veronica Schanoes is an intriguing retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, set partly in a very urban environment, with a heroine who is obsessed with snakes.

Bright Waters by John Brown is another story that I liked very much. It's a complex, romantic story about a battered man, a mystical tattoo and a blue-eyed woman who's handy with a corn stick. (A corn stick isn't a food in this case; it's a weapon good for whacking people on the head.) There's also a war thrown in, or maybe a battle, and some pretty complicated ethical questions, all while being entertaining. You can read the story for free at Mr. Brown's website, as well as the original ending to the story, which I happen to think is unnecessary. I think the ending as it appears in the anthology is spot on. http://johndbrown.com/stories/

You Were Neither Hot Nor Cold, but Lukewarm, and So I Spit You Out is a nice horror story by Cara Spindler and David Erik Nelson. When I say nice I don’t mean nice like kind, I mean nice like super spooky and worrisome. Before I say anything else I should say I learned something new because of this story. I didn't understand the title so I looked it up and was surprised to see it's from the Bible, from Revelations 3:16 to be precise. It's the story of The Famous and Talented Horror Author and what happens when he starts being haunted by horrible dreams wherein his wife transmutes into a horrible creature that does terrible things while he's sleeping. One might expect a horror author to have nightmares so that's not a problem but when they bleed into the waking world it's time to start worrying.

One-Paragraph Review

This week's one-paragraph review is from Harvey Biswald, Rhymes with Griswald, who says "Prototype, the new game from Activision, is simply amazing, it puts you in the shoes of Alex Mercer, the prototype, who cannot remember what happened to him, and woke up in a morgue with the power to absorb enemies and creatures and learn all that they knew, and gain their strength. Very fun. I would recommend it to all who don't get queasy easily." Do you have a one-paragraph (or smaller) review you'd like to share? Send it in to me for consideration. You can reach me at feedback@qualitytimeweekly.com.