The Coyote Road
by Ellen Datlow & Terry Windling (Editors)
Edited by Sharyn November
Cover Artist: Charles Vess
Review by Gayle Surrette
Viking Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780670061945
Date: 19 July 2007 List Price $19.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Tricksters aren't necessarily evil or good; they're just harbingers of change and transformation. I've been fascinated with trickster stories and loved them in the works of Charles de Lint and others. There have been trickster stories as long as people have told stories to record events, entertain, and to pass on wisdom and standards of behavior. Now, we have an anthology of all new stories featuring tricksters by Pat Murphy, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Christopher Barzak, Delia Sherman, and many others.
The problem I often find with anthologies is their unevenness -- some stories are outstanding and some are so-so and others you can't remember after you turn the page and start the next story. That's not the case here. Each and every story engages your attention and your emotions -- of course some are more appealing to me than others and some that I loved may be the ones that you like less, but they're all worthy additions to trickster territory.
In "One Odd Shoe" by Pat Murphy, we finally find out why there are only single shoes, boots, or sneakers on the side of the road as well as learning how one philanderer got his comeuppance. Steve Berman in "Wager of Gold Mountain" has two tricksters play with the life of a Chinese man who wishes for his brother's health. Hermes is prayed to by Nysa in "The Listeners" by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, and has her prayers answered in a most unusual way as she tries to avoid being used by a guest of the house. There's the deal with the devil that must be broken, a wind that brings changes to those it touches and then returns them when it passes on. There's a game that must be won to escape entrapment and enslavement, the haunted school, the cat who forgets that cats don't talk, there's the young girl who dreams of a better life and is shown the crow road and how to travel it when she has a name to give.
Each story is a gem to ponder and relish before moving on to the next. You'll laugh, gasp, and worry as the tricksters dabble in the lives of men and women. But you'll also have a great time with wonderful characters and worlds and gain some insight into the working of these change makers.