One thing I never expected when I started on the path of becoming a published author was how many awesome relative unknowns I would meet. I fully expected to run into a whole gaggle of writers like myself; eager but clumsy and wanting desperately to see our words on paper if nowhere near good enough for that to happen. But those hidden gems, those diamonds that should be held up to the light for everyone to enjoy, that I didn't expect.
J.M. Frey is one of those diamonds and Hero Is A Four Letter Word a shining example of why.
The book is a collection of three of her shorts (stories that is). Two I've already read in previous anthologies, but it was indeed a pleasure to read them again. One of them, Maddening Science, has one of my favorite lines of all time:
“Heroes can save the world. But villains can change it, Rachel.”
I still get goosebumps when I read that. It captures the essence of the superhero/villain paradigm with crystal clarity.
The other old tale is The Once and Now-ish King, a look at what would happen if King Arthur were resurrected fully aware in the body of an infant. It is wonderfully daft and fun.
The new story, Another Four Letter Word, is classic J.M. Frey. It has a distinct British flavor over top of a modern Canadian sensibility, both mixed together deliciously. It takes a very classic story archetype and twists it around. I don't want to give away spoilers, so let me just say that you will never look at fairy-tales quite the same after reading it.
Now all three of these stories sound fantastical and out there, but at their core they are all about people. This is what makes J.M. such a jewel and why she needs to be read by more people. The emotions the characters are raw and visceral, like an exposed nerve that someone keeps flicking. They inform and shape the stories as much as the outlandish ideas or classical mythologies that J.M. draws upon. They crackle and spark with anger and humor, with simple joys and complex passions.
J.M. Frey continues to surprise me. With each new story of her's I read I think there's no way she can exceed this, she's hit the top, but then she knocks it out of the park and I sit around stunned at what I just read. Pick up Hero Is A Four Letter Word and found out for yourself.