Genre: Fantasy — Grimdark
Publisher: Grimdark Magazine (June 16, 2017)
Length: 522 pages
My Rating: 4 stars
Grimdark lovers gather around! Followers of the most foul follow my lead! The ultimate anthology of the genre has arrived, and it perfectly captures the despicable, rotten, violent worlds and people of all our favorite authors. And whether you’re a dedicated reader of Grimdark Magazine or not, its creator Adrian Collins has put together a damn fine collection of stories with Evil Is A Matter of Perspective, one every fan of villains must read.
Once the book opens, a reader will immediately be dazzled by the authors included here. R. Scott Bakker, Michael R. Fletcher, Janny Wurts, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Alex Marshall, Marc Turner, Peter Orullian, Jeff Salyards, Deborah A. Wolf, Mazarkis Williams, Bradley P. Beaulieu, Matthew Ward, and many more. The list reading like a who’s who of fantasy. And, for the most part, the stories each of these authors contribute live up to their stellar reputations.
Naturally, there were all types of tales presented. The only similarity among the lot that the protagonist are villains. Those despicable characters most of us usually love to hate. All the authors doing their best to reveal the hidden side of their most repulsive, vile creations. And more than a few of these guys grew on me, made me feel bad at their circumstances, and even understand their motives. Can’t say I ever liked any of them, but at least I became a more sympathetic hater. But, naturally, I liked some of these people and their stories more than others, so instead of going through every single story in this anthology, I’m going to highlight my favorites of the bunch.
Right out of the gate I got to devour a delectable morsel of madness from my favorite author of the moment Michael R. Fletcher. His story “The Broken Dead” about an emotional scarred young woman, her misuse by her lover, and where it leads both immensely insightful and wickedly entertaining. If you haven’t read Fletcher yet, this tale will definitely whet your appetite for more.
The most surprising and jarring story for me was “Better than Breath” by Brian Staveley. This tale about a mother protecting her children tore at my heart, because the author’s twist at the end really stabbed the knife in deep, causing me to question everything I had felt so certain of just pages before.
Another favorite author of mine was Jeff Salyards look at a traitor in “The Syldoon Sun.” The motives and reasons for a turncoats’ seemingly horrible actions made clear, and his end more tragic for how it occurs.
Alex Marshall’s “The Divine Death of Jirella Martigore” was probably my favorite weird tale. The look at a young, naive woman ascending to the position of Black Pope of her world’s universal church quite the depressing, chaotic, and grim look at how youthful exuberance to change the world isn’t always a good thing.
But the highlight of the anthology for me was Peter Orullian’s amazingly clever, delightfully cruel, and cunningly crafted “The Aging of a Kill.” This revenge (or justice, according to your point of view) story about the calculated subversion of a person’s whole life rather than their murder so good I could not stop reading it. The Count of Monte Cristo has nothing on this story, boys and girls.
The only flaw of this anthology (Other reviewers have also mentioned it.) the fact that most of the villains here are just that VILLAINS. The stories not really presenting any sense that these guys have any redeeming qualities or are conflicted in any way regarding their vile ways. In fact, most of these people are bad at the beginning, middle and end of their story. No remorse. No believable struggle to fight their baser instincts. They are pieces of shite and don’t apologize for it. Nothing wrong with that, but I had expected these stories to highlight more ambiguity in their natures. So it probably should come as no surprise that my favorite stories are the ones where I felt the author did the best job of actually justifying their protagonists’ grimness.
Even with that criticism, I have to say Evil Is A Matter of Perspective was an excellent anthology, filled with stories for every readers’ taste. Simply put, it is some damn fine grimdark. And if you like villains, then there is no better place to get your fix, my grim brothers and sisters.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.