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The Ladies of Grace Adieu - Susanna Clarke
Genre: Fantasy

I have to say, I didn't think I would like these short stories. Not because I had heard anything negative about them, but because I had tried Jonathan Strange and Mr.Norrell a few years back and couldn't really get into it. Possibly the reason for that is because I listened to the audio book instead of reading it myself - I found the constant switching to footnotes to be disorienting in an audio-only setting.
The Ladies of Grace Adieu I also listened to, but with fewer footnotes than Jonathan Strange, I found it pleasant as an audio book.

Here are my thoughts on each of the stories:

The Ladies of Grace Adieu - I had thought the title story would dominate the collection a bit more than it did. Not knowing anything about the book I had thought the Ladies would appear throughout the collection. I was a bit disappointed that they did not. After building up their characters so much I found it disappointing that it didn't accumulate to more. The climax felt lacking and parts of the story seemed to be rather less important than it seems they were being built up to be. In the end this was a story about sexism and female revenge. Interesting, but not the best of the lot.

On Lickerish Hill - Another story which took a long time to build up to an anti-climactic ending. This is basically Rumpelstiltskin but instead of a tiny goblin-like man, he's a faerie. This one literally made me say "meh" when it finished. There wasn't enough difference from the original story to make it worth the retelling.

Mrs Mabb
- This story was fun but I was disappointed that we never really got to see Mrs.Mabb. Clarke wove in a lot of fairy lore. I like the classic idea that people might lose track of time when under the influence of a fairy and could let the rest of the world pass them by without realizing it. Also the concept that a person could dance themselves to death thinking that they are part of a beautiful ball is very fairy-ish though I can't place where I know it from.

The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse
- This story was very short and seemed to lack a point. It had an interesting concept that was not developed very much. The idea that a person's fate could be woven into a tapestry is not new, but I like how Clarke made the Duke able to affect his own fate and intelligent enough to do so.

Mr Simonelli or the Fairy Widower - Probably my favorite of the lot because of all the possibilities it hints at for other stories branching off this one. I particularly like the mouldering glory of the fairy house that is viewed by mortals as a gorgeous palace. I'd like to hear more about Mr.Simonelli.

Tom Brightwind or How the Fairy Bridge Was Built at Thoresby -This story was fun to listen to and moved at a good pace. The scene with all the builders being magically called was very good and really captured my imagination.

Antickes and Frets - I didn't care for this story at all. It was another story that seemed like it was going to be interesting in the beginning but soon lost steam and ended disappointingly.

John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner - I really enjoyed this story. It's written in classic fairy-tale style with a trio of unfortunate incidents occurring to a poor unsuspecting protagonist (the charcoal burner) who then has to seek help from higher powers to remedy his problems. Each time the problem, and remedy, grow in size until the fairy antagonist must face the charcoal burner and right his wrongs. A good story about the powerless defeating the powerful (with supernatural help).

All in all, I found Clarke's style to be entertaining and often amusing, but in general the stories took rather a while to get to the point. I fear that I still won't have the patience for Jonathan Strange and Mr.Norrell but after these short stories, I am willing to give it another try - this time in text format.

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