________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 21 . . . . June 23, 2006


Mythspring: From the Lyrics and Legends of Canada. (Realms of Wonder).

Julie E. Czerneda & Genevieve Kierans, eds.
Calgary, AB: Red Deer Press, 2006.
304 pp., pbk., $22.95.
ISBN 0-88995-340-6.

Subject Headings:
Fantasy fiction, Canadian (English).
Short Stories, Canadian (English).
Canadian fiction (English)-21st century.

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.

Review by Ronald Hore.

*** /4


George treasured the times, sitting at Grandpa's knees, when the old man had told him the tales of their people - legends and myths - and he hated Tom's tone whenever he spoke of Grandpa Joseph. "The Windigo," George said, and could almost hear his grandpa's raspy voice: 'Windigo, comes down from the north during the five moons of winter to hunt. It can possess a man, make him eat his friends and family. Its hunger never stops. It flies on the wind, or takes the form of a giant, taller than the trees. Once you're in its gaze there's no escape.' This story had never failed to scare George.

“You know that's all crap. Grandpa Joseph was crazy. Dad said so."

Grandpa Joseph had gone downhill at the end. George remembered visiting him in the home, his mind taken by Alzheimer's. The last time they'd visited him, Grandpa had had a moment of lucidity. He'd looked at George. 'You have a true heart. Don't let anyone change that. Tom is too much like your father,' Grandpa Joseph had said. 'They don't believe in the old stories.'

George did believe, or always thought he did. Having said it now though, 'Windigo's out there,' it did sound ridiculous."

The subtitle of Mythspring is From the Lyrics and Legends of Canada. It is an interesting concept, an anthology of original short fiction, each story inspired by a different Canadian myth or work of music. The collection is also made up of a blend of professional published Canadian authors and those writers being published for the very first time. The stories vary widely in their concept.

     The book, of 304 pages, consists of the introduction, the sixteen short stories, plus biographies on the contributors and the usual Credits and Acknowledgements. The stories average around 18 pages each. Each story is introduced by a separate page that introduces the various themes on which the stories are based, whether that is the lyrics of a Stan Rogers song, a quote from the book Mysterious Canada, or a verse from a Robert Service poem. The stories vary from the serious to the light-hearted. One of a series of recent anthologies, the volume is an attractive package. There are no illustrations.

     The stories cover most parts of Canada and topics as varied as mythical creatures, ghosts, and Science Fiction. “Mirror, Mirror” spins a modern tale based on song lyrics and a mirror that may just be magic. The title, “Windigo,” leaves no doubt what lies behind this particular story. “All the Cool Monsters at Once” begins at Lake Okanagan and an appearance by Ogopogo. “Over Lunar White” leads us astray in the depths of the Toronto subway system. “Under Summons” takes us on a marine expedition in the St. Lawrence Islands National Park, where one of the explorers is a cat. With “Walking With Wolves,” the story is based on a French Canadian folk tale and revolves around the Loup Garou, otherwise known as a werewolf. “This is the Ice Age” is a tale inspired by a Martha and the Muffins song. “Family Trees” takes the reader back to Lake Ontario and the "Marysburgh Vortex," Canada's version of the "Bermuda Triangle." “Over the Darkened Landscape” was inspired by the death and art of the Group of Seven artist, Tom Thomson. “After November” is a tale based on the ghost of a stone mason in Toronto. “The Harpy” is a tale of a siren and is inspired by a poem by Robert Service. “The Ghost of Watson's Mill is Online” combines a popular Ontario ghost and computers. “This Ink Feels Like Sorrow” is an Inuit tale. The story “Safe Passage” is another ghost story, this time set on the shores of Lake Huron. Another song-based tale, “The Universal Soldier,” is set on a different lakeshore. The final tale in the collection, “The Lady of Land's End,” is set in Gaspe Quebec.

     This book should appeal to a wide variety of ages and interests and, at the very least, will introduce readers to some facets of Canada and our history and mythology with which they are probably not familiar.


Ronald Hore, involved with writer's groups and writer's workshops for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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