Broken Metropolis is a complex collection of urban fantasy short stories starring LGBTQ+ characters. Ranging from a living city to a soul-eating convenience store owner to a motorcycle run on magical fumes, the worlds truly shine, highlighting the originality and inventiveness of the authors and the editor. Some stories are stronger than others, but the combined effort is an inclusive, well-thought-out collection that will entertain and inspire.
Edited by Dave Ring
Mason Jar Press, 2018
Pop below the robot to read my top five favorites — there are some real gems in the collection.
Note: I received a free copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.
Your Heart In My Teeth, by V. Medina
This story blew me away. It starts as the tragedy of a young man trying to cope with the loss of a lover and ends in a cacophony of beautiful imagery. I imagine this to be as pure as urban fantasy can get. The author conveys magic in their prose without there being any actual magic. The city comes to life and, whether it’s in his mind or in his reality, it’s brilliantly executed. This is the shining beacon of this collection.
The Plague-Eater, by Caspian Gray
This was an intriguing story, showing an aspect of Mexican fantasy in the form of a creature that heals (or kills) the dying. It’s treated comically at first, but becomes real at the end of the story. There’s a hint of mystery as nobody really knows what this thing is and what price it demands for saving a person. This was well done with relatable characters and a fascinating yet terrifying entity.
Under Her White Stars, by Jacob Budenz
This story had the most traditional magic, and it was done quite well. The author is able to establish a lot of world building alongside well-developed characters. I loved the idea of a soul-stealing convenience store owner who lures unsuspecting tourists into his shop. It’s a great adaptation of an old magic myth into a modern city.
Venus Conjunct Saturn, by Claire Rudy Foster
Venus is a well-written love story, detailing a trans woman who has been burned many times in her relationships. You feel the pain she’s had to deal with, the second-guessing of every lover who might turn on her when her transition is revealed. The fantasy aspect lies in the magic of finding someone who accepts you for you, who doesn’t turn their back on you when you show them your whole self. I appreciated this story.
Neon, by M. Raoulee
The actual story in Neon was a bit muddled for me, but it was more than made up for by the beautiful usage of magic. The central technology is a motorcycle that runs on spells instead of gas — it’s presented well and is a fascinating concept. Halfway through the story, the magic takes over the plot with stunning imagery of woven threads that light up the room. It was so interesting that I didn’t mind being left with some confusion.
LGBTQ+, Urban Fantasy, Magic, Myth, Modern Retelling, Technology, Death, Love
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