I just finished reading The Surgeon’s Tale and Other Stories by Cat Rambo and Jeff Vandermeer. I gotta tell you, this slim volume of tales had me on every page. The title story, a collaboration between the two authors, owes its roots to Poe and Shelley; it’s like a literary fairy tale take on Frankenstein. Everytime you think you know which dark path the story is going to turn down, it spins down another one that’s even darker. It alone would be worth the price of admission.
“The Farmer’s Cat,” by Mr. Vandermeer, though set in Norway, reminds me fondly of Iceland. The way the farmer-protagonist handles his troll infestation is that I can imagine some of my co-workers doing.
Also of note is “A Key Decides its Destiny” by Ms. Rambo. My heavens. This is the sort of story that turned me on to adult fairy tales in the first place. It feels like a much older tale and something that would have found its way into the Datlow & Windling fairy tale anthologies if they were still compiling them.
I’ve just mentioned half the stories in the anthology, any one of which would be worth picking it up for. There are three more stories every bit as good.
Not only that, but it’s pretty too, with interior illustrations by Kris Dikeman and a cover by James A. Owen. Definitely think about picking up a copy. The Surgeon’s Tale is so slender, it would make a lovely stocking stuffer for the reader on your list.