Tales of the Hidden World by Simon R. Green
I received this book as an e-ARC from Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.
This is a wonderful collection of Simon R. Green’s stories, ranging from a brand new story to the very first story he ever sold. The stories are all tied together by themes of death and dying, resulting in a book that is darker than many of his novels, but retains Green’s familiar insouciance and dry, dark humor. Tales of the Hidden World offers a good sense of Green’s style and voice for those looking to taste a new author’s short stories before they commit to a novel or a series. New readers should be aware that short stories are truly only a taste, not a feast. While the tales reflect Green’s masterful world building and his unique combination of broody atmosphere with caustic wit and the strange twists and turns that may or may not take you somewhere you want to be, the stories are only a quick sip and don’t offer a true Simon R. Green experience. The Nightside story is good, but it isn’t as quick and clever and satisfying as a Nightside novel. “A Question of Solace,” the story about the Drood family’s armorer lacks the dimension and flair of the Secret Histories novels.
The collection includes stories written over a span of decades and represents the assortment of diverse genres that Green tackles. Each story has a new afterward written by Simon R. Green, sharing his personal thoughts and memories relating to that story. Established fans (like myself) will be thrilled to revisit familiar worlds and characters, and to trace the development of Green’s inimitable voice and style. Truthfully, my favorite part of this collection is the afterward Green wrote for his stories, giving us a peek into himself and his process, as well as enhancing the experience of reading each story. I highly recommend this book to fans of Simon R. Green.
I think that this particular book will have a very unusual mix of reactions from first-time readers and fans alike. Many (most) fans will love this collection, enjoying the pleasure of slipping into a favorite world or discovering a different one; visiting the familiar haunts, old friends – and enemies – and meeting new ones. For all the reasons that I loved this book, some fans and newbies are going to hate it. That’s just the way it goes. Like all anthologies, I liked some stories more than others, but I think that almost everyone will find something that they appreciate in this collection.
After I read through the book the first time, I closed it, scribbled a few notes so I would remember my thoughts, laughed, pulled out my copy of The Man with the Golden Torc and settled in to enjoy. Once I indulged my yen quality time with the Droods, I picked Tales of the Hidden World up again. This time I read the stories in chronological order, beginning with the earliest. What a ride! I followed the journey of a talented, inexperienced writer as he found his voice, honed his gift, and emerged as a powerful storyteller with a unique perspective and a true genius for wonderfully twisted, sardonic humor.