I have a not-so-secret love of linked short fiction. I love revisiting the same place, the same character, or some other connected thread that runs through a series of short stories. Whether episodic and related or just different moments in a life, it seems to me that short fiction is one of the best ways to give you a sense of a whole that feels so much larger than the sum of its parts.
That Door is a Mischief is a brilliant whole made of magnificent parts.
Now, allow me to display my bias completely. I adore the Liam stories. I have adored the Liam stories since the first time I bumped into them in Icarus magazine, and I gushed and praised them loud enough that – I hope – I had something to do with more of them being written. Alex Jeffers is a master of his craft, a wordsmith on par with any of those names you were forced to read in university and then sat there, thunderstruck, at the last page thinking, why doesn’t everyone know this author?
I’m gushing again, aren’t I?
So who’s Liam? Well, Liam’s a fairy. Wings, antennae, the whole shebang. Raised by his gay dads in our world – a world where Liam fits and doesn’t fit, understands and can’t begin to comprehend – this collection brings together eight stories of Liam, and creates that whole I was talking about earlier. Jeffers’s take on fairies, is unique and enthralling, and Liam – an outsider so achingly perfect in his role – evokes such empathy from the reader, even when he’s being less than wonderful.
I’d read some of these stories before, as I said, but when put together into a collection as a whole Door took a character I already adored and turned him into a character I will never forget. There’s pain, and love; fear, and growth; beginnings, and, yes, and ending. But even the ending has that Jeffers magic spun through it, and somewhere alongside the choking feeling of sadness at the final few lines I was still smiling in spite of myself.
If you’re at all a lover of short fiction, and if you’re at all a lover of speculative fiction where our world intersects with something ‘other,’ then you need to do yourself the favour of finding a copy of That Door is a Mischief.
Open it. Step through. You won’t be same, but then again, with magical doors that’s always the point.