I’m going to be honest: the only thing I was really looking for in Hellebore & Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic was for it to live up to its cover. I mean, look at that cover! It’s definitely one of my favourites.
The good news is, it does! It seems like every review of an anthology has a disclaimer that all anthologies have varying quality between stories, which is true, but Hellebore & Rue had a much, much higher standard of writing in the stories collected than I am used to in most anthologies (and unfortunately, especially lesbian anthologies). There was only one story where I felt the writing didn’t compare to the other stories, and it turns out that it is the first story published by that author, so that makes sense.
There are all kinds of “magic” the stories, from magical realism to whole fantasy worlds, but they all manage to establish their reality well in a short story.
I think this anthology will especially appeal to readers who are looking for a story with lesbians (and other queer women) in it, a story where the protagonist just happens to be queer, not a story about being a lesbian–a plea I hear a lot from readers.
Overall I highly recommend Hellebore & Rue, especially to reader who enjoy the fantasy genre. And since I noticed a higher standard for their stories than I’m used to, I’ll be keeping an eye on the editors (JoSelle Vanderhooft and Catherine Lundoff), as well as the publishing company (Lethe Press).