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Kat Howard

"Believe everything."

American Gods: 10th Anniversary

The first thing you should know is that this isn't a review of Neil Gaiman's American Gods. American Gods is a book that changed the shape of fantasy literature when it came out ten years ago. One might as well try and hold lightning as review a book like that, especially ten years on.

Nor have I taken refuge in my medievalist training, and attempted a textual comparison between this, the Author's Preferred Text, which contains about 12,000 words more (about 50 pages) than the original edition. I had contemplated that, and then decided that while such an endeavour might make for a practical academic exercise, it would competely miss the point.

The point of American Gods is not the practical. It is belief.

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A book that is my heart of flesh

Tam LinI think perhaps if you are a reader, you will have books that are more than favorites. Not many, but a select set of books that you could give to someone as an introduction to who you truly are. Books that have gone beyond story, and become sacred text.

One of those books for me is Pamela Dean's Tam Lin.

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Our Favorites: Re-Told Fairy Tales

Into the WoodsI was in about fourth grade when I saw Into the Woods on stage for the first time. This musical, written by Stephen Sondheim, intertwines multiple fairy tales--Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, and several others--telling each story in its familiar version in the first act. At intermission, I bumped into one of my teachers, who had seen the show before. I told him how much I was enjoying myself, and he suggested that I go home and not see the second act, so that I continue to feel happy about what I had seen.

I stayed and saw the second act. And while I was a little shaken up at the time, I am so glad that I stayed. Sure, the second act of Into the Woods challenges the idea of "happily ever after," but in doing so, it provides a means for fairy tales to become more than familiar bedtime stories that fit in a comfortable box created by "once upon a time" and "they lived happily ever after." It provides a way for them to speak to the issues that we all deal with in everyday life.

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"Happy ever after... is a choice."

The Snow Queen's ShadowSo the thing is, Fantasy Matters is a PG-13 site. And, really, I know a great many words. Quintessence. Sinople. Petrichor. Shenanigan. Lollygag. So one might think I could be more genteel in my assessment. But if I could, I would give you a three word review of The Snow Queen's Shadow by Jim C. Hines that would read something like this: So. Frakking. Good.

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The Innocent Sleep

The Riverside Shakespeare

Still it cried "Sleep no more!" to all the house.
"Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor
Shall sleep no more. Macbeth shall sleep no more."

- Macbeth II.ii.54-56

I love Shakespeare. Truly, deeply, tattoo the words on my skin, love. And the reason I love Shakespeare so much is his language. So if you were to tell me that my favorite theatrical production of Macbeth would be one in which I heard fewer than ten lines spoken, I would have thought you mad.

Then I attended Punchdrunk's performance of Sleep No More

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