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Magic Mirrors (NESFA's Choice) by John Bellairs
Cover Artist: Omar Rayyan
Review by Steve Sawicki
NESFA Press Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781886778672
Date: 23 July 2009 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: NESFA Press /

John Bellairs is going to be a pretty unfamiliar name to most people, unless they are readers of YA Gothic thrillers. While Bellairs is best known for his YA work he also wrote adult fantasy and parody. This collection includes The Face in the Frost, Bellairs fantasy novel detailing the adventures of Prospero and Roger Bacon as they work against an evil that is taking over their world. The book also includes an unfinished sequel titled The Dolphin Cross. Perhaps his best known work, Saint Fidgita and Other Parodies is also included here along with The Pedant and the Shuffly. All are copiously illustrated by Marilyn Fitschen and the cover is by Omar Rayyan.

Fantasy seems to lend itself to parody more so than SF perhaps because it is already a half step into the absurd to begin with. There are also dashes of horror here as well which also seems to be melded to fantasy much more so than SF.

Bellair, who died in 1991, seems willing to use both humor and horror to get his points across. In fact, he does an excellent job of meshing these seemingly disparate forms to produce what many consider masterpieces of fiction. His flair for description of setting and his eye for the absurd go hand in hand with his ability to create mood and induce fear while still allowing the reader to believe that there is hope for good.

This is another book from NESFA, the fine folks of the New England Science Fiction Association, the very same ones who put on the Boskone SF convention. This is a book for people who love books put together by people who love books. Lucky for us they also love SF, fantasy, and horror so all of their books tend to be must haves.

NESFA started putting out a book in commemoration of the guest of honor of each year's Boskone. They've grown since then and now put out between a half dozen and a dozen books each year, all in hardcover. The books are well constructed, well designed, fairly priced and simply a must have for anyone with an interest in a good read.

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