Book Review: Visitants – Editor Stephen Jones

VISITANTS

Editor: Stephen Jones
Published By: Ulysses Press
Published Date: November 1, 2010
Format: Black /White – 400 pages
Price: $14.95 ($9.99 on Kindle)

It pains me to imagine the amount of time, effort, thought and research that went into putting together this anthology of stories of “Fallen Angels and Heavenly Hosts,” but I am absolutely thrilled that it happened. Rarely are you lucky enough find a collection that is so well worth reading cover to cover. This is one that makes you nervous about what you might be missing if you become tempted to skip a story that sounds like it might not be quite up your alley. It is also one that makes you look forward to each new tale that awaits as you are finishing up the one prior. It also may even produce pangs of sadness as you realize that there are only a few stories left as you approach the very end of it all.

I enjoyed the anthology thoroughly, but I will admit that it took me a bit longer to get through than expected. This, however, is simply because I found myself re-reading many of the stories as I went along. It is that good. Starting with the first offering, by none other than Neil Gaiman. I was actually compelled to read Gaiman’s “Murder Mysteries” 3 times before I could move on with the second of the 27 other stories, due to the same kind of urge that made people see “The Sixth Sense” or “The Usual Suspects” repeated times in the theater before moving on to something new. There were a few like that for me; with either a structure, or a twist, or some other special element that made a second look very tempting – sometimes irresistible.

I was definitely surprised by the variety. Initially wondering how many different takes on angels could fill a 400 page book without becoming somewhat repetitive, I am still amazed that it never became tired, old, or repetitive in the least. I was cautiously optimistic at the outset and finished completely entertained. There are sophisticated angels sniffing out crimes as well much less sophisticated ones with foul manners and objectionable appetites. There are angels who are here to help, be helped or sometimes simply stopping by to pay a quick visit. There are a few different takes on some of the Biblical stories involving angels, including one “what if” story about Jesus that forced one of the immediate re-reads mentioned earlier. The settings for the stories range from the beginning of the universe through and including the days of the Old and New Testaments, World War II and even the war on terror gets some time. There’s also a one act play nestled nicely in here for a little change of pace.

It’s hard for me to say all I want to about Visitants without potentially playing the spoiler for some of the tales that are waiting inside. I was definitely entertained enough to know that I will be seeking out another collection of works put together by editor, Stephen Jones. I even bought the electronic version of the book despite my free hard copy because I felt guilty having enjoyed it so much and imagining the work that went into it. Suffice to say, I never thought I would be inclined to keep my eyes open for a particular editor as opposed to an author, but I seem have no choice now.

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