The collection seems to have particular interest in chance encounters that ultimately shape lives. These stories are about questioning the status quo, exercising the inquisitive mind rather than simply accepting common practice or knowledge. Neverland's Library is concerned with vision, about seeing with more than just our limited eyes but with open, unlimited minds.
It celebrates human imagination and its power of inclusion, the capacity to perceive and conceive of all manner of people and works, recognizing differences and finding commonalities with which to bridge such differences.
INTRODUCTION by Tad Williams: This introduction played on my heartstrings, recently wearied with most fantasy offerings. Mr. Williams gives me a timely reminder of the scope, intent and extent of fantasy fiction. He exhorts readers to tap into that part beyond logic and reason, a type of understanding of things that cannot be explained away but we recognize as existing anyway. Explore emotions, embrace hope as well as despair, courage as well as fear, wrap yourself with all that is wondrous. He says: "Ultimately, fantasy is about reducing the world to human size again, while expanding what might be to the greatest extent we can imagine."
Mark Lawrence: DECEPTION has a circular beauty, like a Chinese paper fan that opens up and then folds back into itself. It reads like a secular parable, imparting a lesson by revealing a secret to the reader unbeknownst to the characters of the story. This is about the tenuous relationship between the gods and man. This story has no relation to, and is very different from, the Broken Empire books, but Mr. Lawrence disappoints in neither one. A satisfying read.
J.M.Martin: It took me a while to get into SHADOW DUST. The characters didn't draw me in, but everything does come together in the end. One of the stories about self-questioning, being confronted with the person you were, the person you've become by virtue of circumstance and becoming the person you want to be.
Brian Stavely: DEAD OX FALLS is marked by a pervasive angst throughout, emphasizing the dilemma of the main character whose son has strayed from the righteous path and has been missing for almost a year. A heartbreaking story about the unique sway of fatherhood.
Tim Marquitz: An ex-soldier seeks to rescue a young girl with special powers in REDEMPTION AT KNIFE'S EDGE. Tim Marquitz's pointed descriptions really work for me. Your senses are awakened and the characters and setting truly come alive. He efficiently details the sights and sounds of his crude, harsh world and the personalities and moods of the individuals that populate it. This is action-packed, moves at a brisk pace, with just the right amount of magical elements.
Teresa Frohock: LOVE, CRYSTAL, AND STONE is vintage Senora Frohock. It has the same brooding atmosphere that marks her writing, signaling that things will not be as they appear to be. This story reminds me of a combination of a Poe tale and a Twilight Zone episode. An abandoned boy is found, saved and reared by a carpenter who teaches the boy of human love and endurance. Everything he's learned will serve him well when he learns the secrets of his past and is confronted by his true identity. I have a feeling Senora Frohock plays a musical instrument or analyzes music deeper than most. I must remind myself to ask her about this sometime.
Jeff Salyards: In THE HEIGHT OF OUR FATHERS, we are treated to a window into Braylar Killcoin's past. He's the enigmatic character in Mr. Salyards' SCOURGE OF THE BETRAYER. The story has good pacing, maintains a high level of tension and strikes definite emotional chords. This one achieved something short stories rarely do. An unexpected scene made me tear up and the unexpectedness was made more pronounced by the profound honesty and emotional charge of it. Kudos, Mr. Salyards. I'm so primed for VEIL OF THE DESERTERS.
Mercedes M. Yardley: CHARLOTTE AND THE DEMON WHO SWAM THROUGH THE GRASS is an uplifting story about trusting yourself and conquering your fears. Charlotte was a little girl who saw things others didn't see and was ridiculed and judged for it. Everyone backed her into a corner until Charlotte started doubting herself. She emerged from the constant barrage of accusers, pained and fearful, until she realized she was right all along and must fight the darkness that only she is aware of. A tad predictable and, as a matter of personal preference, I would have preferred further exploration of the dark forces at work.
Peter Rawlik: ON THE FAR SIDE OF THE APOCALYPSE showcases Mr. Rawlik's macabre fascination with the angel mythology. Like any other organization, there is an angel hierarchy with angels being given information only on a need-to-know basis. It is difficult to describe this without inadvertently giving important details best discovered by the reader. I'll just say that this presents a rather interesting alternate creation story and a curious view of the constraints of human nature.
William Meikle: THE LAST MAGICIAN is a story about magic lost and magic found. I admit I found the ending unremarkable and seemingly abrupt or abbreviated.
Ian Creasey: I'm not quite sure I grasped the story behind RESTORING THE MAGIC. It seemed to be circling around the story and never got to actually telling it. I understand the value of suspense and leaving something to the imagination, but I think this tried to be too clever or too subtle that it prevented me from appreciating the actual story. I also found the ending a bit abrupt, giving me a sense that the best part of the tale was left untold.
Joseph R. Lallo: THE STUMP AND THE SPIRE is an enjoyable story about William, a boy filled with restlessness and curiosity, especially about his surroundings. He will discover the truth behind old tales while being taught patience and the responsibilities of adulthood.
Steve McQuiggan: REDFERN'S SLIPPER is a rather twisted fairy tale of love-- the persistent, insistent, against your better judgment kind of love. The story really doesn't hold many surprises and, I must admit, I'm not quite sure I totally grasped the import of this story.
Keith Gouveia: FIRE WALKER is about a family of performers-- father, mother and son, the latter being the titular fire walker. The son grew up believing his father was more concerned with the family trade than his own son. While performing in a small town, it was attacked by monsters. During the skirmish, the son discovers things about his father bound to transform their relationship, if only they manage to survive the attack.