Fantasy magazine

From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

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Returning My Sister’s Face And Other Far Eastern Tales of Whimsy and Malice by Eugie Foster

In this elegant collection of stories Eugie Foster bridges the gap between the traditional fairytale and historical fantasy. Throughout the collection she alternates between re-tellings of Chinese and Japanese legends and original stories with elements drawn from the same deep wells. There is a formality to the writing that suits the traditional strain, giving a timeless authority to all the stories without making them unapproachable. On the contrary, they are charming to read.

The first story, one of the strongest, called “Daughter of Botu,” opens with a rabbit giving us a lesson in Buddhism: Buddha teaches us that this existence is one of suffering. And of all the Middle Kingdom, my people, the Clan of Botu, bears the greatest burden of suffering. We are fodder for all — tiger and owl, fox and man — and only those with fleet limbs, strong hearts, and good fortune survive. This is practically a template for all the stories and legends in the book: “Life is hard, but with a bit of quick action and good luck you might pull through.” In this story, the young rabbit finds her way into the human world in order to save her mother and grandmother from starvation. She finds love, betrayal, sacrifice, and redemption at a cost — all of them themes that recur in Foster’s stories. Likewise recurring are the characters whose courage, loyalty, and trust in the teachings of Buddha, gods, grandmothers and ghosts sees them through to the sometimes bitter end.

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Returning My Sister’s Face And Other Far Eastern Tales of Whimsy and Malice by Eugie Foster

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