Edited by A. Robertson-Webb & M. River
Forgotten Ones is a collection of more than two hundred tales, stories of the old gods, fabulous creatures and a cornucopia of beings from myths and legends all over the world. Two hundred stories in a single book? Surely not, the book would be enormous! Ah, but these are not normal stories; they are drabbles. Each drabble consists of a mere one hundred words, challenging the author to tell their story whilst remaining the master of brevity.
Does it work? Not for me, I’m afraid. I don’t know whether it’s the format itself, or that stories within this collection just aren’t brilliant examples of it. By the way, if you’re trying to work out how long a hundred-word story would be, you’ve already read more than that in this review. The other problem is that quite a few of the stories require you to know the source material. The majority of the stories refer to gods and creatures from myth and legend, from every corner of the world. I’ve been obsessed with mythologies since a child, and because of that many of these tales made sense to me, but they may not to somebody without prior knowledge of the various pantheons.
There are some truly original ones that clicked, such as N.M. Brown’s Life Changes genuinely creepy cuckoo in the nest offering. Some are based on other works of fiction – K.T. Tate’s Ia Ia Cthulhu Fhtagn! requires the reader to have at least a vague understanding of Lovecraft’s Elder Gods. Some of the ‘real’ myth-based ones are self-explanatory, such as Drew Starling’s The Nuckelavee (Orcadian beastie similar to the Kelpie) and Tors-Anders Ulven’s Nøkken (Scandinavian water spirit who lures humans with music). Most of the others require a knowledge in mythology. Fred Williamson’s Broken Lyre was probably my favourite, based on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. If you don’t know the myth then you won’t understand the drabble, but it’s surprisingly emotive for a story of so few words.
Overall, it’s rather a specialist read. If mythology and folk tales appeal to you it’s worth a go to see if you can get on with the format, but otherwise it’s probably a bit niche for general consumption.
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.