Gotta tell you that anthropomorphic animals are not my thing. Yet, I found myself enjoying this collection.
Alan Loewen has a subtlety in his writing that made me forget that many of his characters were not human. They have problems, same as we do and the author’s skill kept me stuck inside his pages for the rest of the stories. They are short stories, written so well that even the shortest of them ‘Festival of Masks’ gave me the feel of a much larger story as I read it.
There are four stories I felt anchored the book to the shorter pieces:
‘Substance of Things Hoped For’, in which a post-apocalyptic earth gets one last nudge from a reluctant bio-engineer.
‘Foxhunt’, where a tense game of life-size chess plays out in a high-security facility.
‘A Fairy Tale’ reads like a cross between a Maltese falcon-like film noir detective movie and a Walt Disney animated film without the saccharine sweetness! (Things get real complicated fast for these PI’s)
And ‘Coventry House’, a quaint, English country-manor where the last of the ‘old gods’ have retired. (To be quite honest, this last was so well written and pulled me so far into the tale that I’m not sure this story DIDN’T take place.) (Masks off, Alan! You made me jealous of your word-craft with Coventry House.)
I thought several times of Phillip K. Dick as I read. Like many of Dick’s stories that shared a post-apocalyptic theme, I felt that Opal Wine had a theme that that held all thirteen stories together: That of making the world a better place for the furred and furless alike!