This is Isobelle Carmody’s second short story anthology, the first being Green Monkey Dreams.
Overall it was a great collection of short stories, not as thought provoking as Green Monkey Dreams, but some very interesting and varied tales, and some beautiful stories.
The title story: Metro Winds
A lovely story about a girl who belongs in the country who is moved to the city and just can’t find her place. The contrast between the girl’s mother, and her aunty who lives in the city is quite striking. The Metro Winds – the winds from the underground network, help the girl find her place. Well, actually her wings, as she is engorged by this beast and transformed.
The Dove Game
Just like in Metro Winds you can get a feeling that Isobelle has a little contempt for cities, and how oppressive, and disconnecting they are.
“Cities smothered the land, he reckoned, stopping it communicating with the people who lived on it, though maybe it was more that cities reflected people’s desire not to hear the land.”
“…[H]is father had said sadly that cities were as confused as the people who lived in them, and that you needed maps for dealing with the people as much as for finding your way around the streets”
It certainly was an interesting story, to see how this young man’s life was changed because of a dying man’s wish. And just how he was lost, and found himself in a foreign city, where he is so disconnected compared to before when he was in the outback. Of course the story of the dying man, and the person he was supposed to meet is also very interesting and mysterious, and turns out to be very haunting and sad.
The Girl Who Could See the Wind
Instead of leaving Australia, this time we have a story where a family comes to Australia, seeking the end of the world. Well really an escape from a promise the mother made to a witch, that promise being her first born daughter in exchange for the man she loved, who died. Certainly was interesting to see Willow see things others just couldn’t, and then the contrast of Rose who saw people more clearly than anyone else. Is Isobelle trying to say there are two (or perhaps three if they are blind to both) people in the world, those who see other people clearly, and those who see the world clearly?
But the story thickens as Rose disappears and their mother is found dead in the winter park, which only Willow and her mother seem aware about – because it’s magical. Eventually Willow goes into the park with her policeman friend to try to find Rose, they end up meeting the witch, who explains the deal, and how her mother had Rose to try and trick the witch and take her instead. And we find that Rose is up in a tower awaiting her rescue by the prince, who is actually her half-brother, who has been through some trials to get there. At the end of it all, the prince is turned into a cat, and he can either leave and be a man, or stay and be with Rose. He chooses to leave, and then immediately regrets it and goes back just before the way closes. While Willow also gets a happily ever after as she and the policeman fall in love also.
I always love how Isobelle can twist old fairytales and stories and come up with something original.
I know from Isobelle’s blog that she has been to Santorini, and I think I can really see her personal experience shine through here. She talks of the smell of the eucalyptus trees, and the feeling of a long flight from Australia, and of Santorini so vividly. For a very long time it was a bit of guessing game to see how this story would be ‘fantasy’, which I liked. Because fantasy doesn’t need to be full on all the time, and in fact this story could nearly end without the fantasy ending, which involved vampires, who once a century find one person to join them to ensure they remain in touch with humanity.
The Wolf Prince
A very complicated story with lots of flash backs and flash backs within memories, but really engrossing. Definitely get the sense of fairytales being woven in, with curses turning men into beasts, only saved by princesses, and the hunt for these princesses which is very complicated. Then the huge mattresses, for a second I thought there was going to be a pea involved, but there wasn’t.
But again, of course given it is the title, we have the theme of cities, and how they hide something more sometimes. Like the passages to the faerie world, this time though it seemed to be Venice which Isobelle was talking about with its canals, but it doesn’t have to be a real place at all.
The Man Who Lost His Shadow
Again another journey to a foreign place, searching. This time for the man’s shadow, which he noticed disappeared not long after his retirement, but the question is how long did he simply not notice? I do like that he went to doctors and the like about not having a shadow and how they just couldn’t comprehend it. Instead he heads to Transylvania?? or somewhere where darkness is strong, after some random interaction with someone who led him there. He gets kidnapped by some criminals for a little while, before being allowed to go on his way, and he ends up having an encounter with a roadside prostitute who is able to give him his shadow back because it’s in her breasts. Yeah, a bit weird.