As a reader, I am fairly easy to please. Give me fiction any time, and I’d most likely keel over in delight (that’s actually an exaggeration, but I think you get the point). However, I must admit that speculative fiction is something new to my reading taste buds. The very first book that I remember reading along this genre is Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, and I confess that I didn’t like it that much that time. I guess at that time my mind’s not ready yet for the kind of stories that Neil Gaiman tells. And then I read Fragile Things, also by Neil Gaiman, and little by little, my interest grew. And then I read another Gaiman, The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, and I was totally won over. When I read that Eliza Victoria writes speculative fiction, I got curious, not to mention that one of my friends at the book club has but all wonderful things to say about this author and A Bottle of Storm Clouds.
So, my mind is still reeling from all that I have read. All the sixteen stories in this collection are really really good: spooky, eerie, baffling, mess-up-your-mind kind of good. To say that I absolutely loved this book is an understatement. Eliza Victoria is another local author whose works I’m going to be on the look-out for. I have become a fan!
This may sound blasphemous to some of my bookish friends but I appreciate Eliza Victoria’s stories more than Neil Gaiman’s. (Please don’t hate me, Gaimaniacs.) It’s because I find her stories more relatable, close to home, because, well, the setting is mostly in the Philippines — my home.
It is so difficult to pinpoint one particular favorite story so I am going to pick out my top 5:
- Ana’s Little Pawnshop on Makiling St. – Want to exchange your most treasured memory of the night sky with a pair of spectacles with glass lenses filled with multi-colored nebulae?
- Sugar Pi – Sure, the math formulas and theorems stumped me, but there is something very heart-warming about Vincent.
- The Just World of Helena Jimenez – Imagine a world where justice is served swiftly and decidedly, leaving no room for the weighing and tipping of the scales.
- The Storyteller’s Curse – You are a writer and suddenly the stories you write come to life. I loved the emotions displayed here.
- Once, In A Small Town – All of your dead loved ones came back.
- (Runner-up:) Siren’s Song – Mutilated mermaids and gifted townsfolk. This could be the longest story in the collection, but I could be wrong, and I’m too lazy to verify, heee.
A Bottle of Storm Clouds is one book by a local author which makes me proud to be Filipino. Adding Unseen Moon to my Christmas wishlist. (*hint hint*)
My copy: Paperback from Monique