Reviewed by David Goudsward
The satyr is a mythical creature of ancient Greece, a follower of Pan or Dionysus with the tails, ears, and phalli of a goat or horse. The faun is a disciple of the Roman Faunus, god of forest and field, a creature with the upper half of a man and the lower half of a goat. The two have merged in folklore, combining the best of each creature into the amalgamation of the satyr and faun that is the hypersexual, bacchanalic flute-player of the forests we all know and envy.
Like the woodlands party animal who is the book’s subject, so too the stories in this anthology frolic and revel and metamorphosize under the supervision of Editor Aaron J. French. French has assembled 20 diverse stories from an equally diverse gathering of authors, each focusing on a different aspect of the goatish hedonist Pan and his cloven-hoofed followers. There are 1-2 stories that feel like the satyr aspect was overlaid onto a preexisting story. It distracts from those stories but it doesn’t diminish the anthology. There is sex, violence and alcohol, not unexpected in a collection of stories about satyrs. It is neither explicit nor gratuitous, but it’s not a YA book either. All in all, I heartily recommend it.
“Tragôidia” by John Langan finds a dying scholar returning to France one last time. He laments he will never write a planned paper on Pan. He and his research may get an unexpected reprieve.
¶Twelve-year-old Chris is visiting classmate Maria in “Casting Lots” by Jodi Renée Lester. Her parents are hosting a book club, but the group’s taste in literature is a little more sylvan than normally found in suburbia.
An anachronistic statue is found in the woods off campus by partying collegians. Now the libido levels are reaching historic levels, literally and figuratively in “Founding Fathers” by K.H. Vaughan.
A business man in desperate need of capital drives out into the country to sell his share of the ancestral homestead, only to find the land is more of a refuge than a working farm “Montfort Farm” by R. Christophe Ryber.¶
“In Vino Veritas” by Robert Harkess is the story of Marco, who has grown weary of the bar scene and the meaningless sex. Problem is, Marco is a satyr and there are quotas to be met.¶
Imagine an allegory of today’s immigration plights. Now add centaurs and satyrs. This is the premise of “Fair Weather from That Crimson Land” by S.J. Hirons.¶
Varinius is a satyr in England at the dawn of the Industrial Age. The old ways are dying, and so are the creatures thought to be legend. Varinius, however, is adaptable in “A Satyr Once…” by David W. Landrum.
“Ship of Fools” by David Farland is a swashbuckling tale of wandering entertainers who battle an evil magician for their very survival.
¶A romance turns to tragedy quickly when a half satyr- half lion falls in love with a dryad in “Blood & Beauty” by Jeff Chapman.
A recent graduate is hired to operate a lonely telescope in the perennial gloom of Wales. The discovery he makes will not appear in the journals in “When The Faun Fell” by Rhys Hughes.¶
“Satyrday” by David Wayne is the musings of Darren, an increasingly world-weary satyr. Or perhaps the world grows weary of Darren.¶
“Opiate of the Lonely One” by Fel Kian finds a grafter picking the wrong mark. Not only does he pick the wrong man to rob, he makes the amateur mistake of exploring the house.¶
Gladys inherits her grandfather’s farm in the Ozarks. Needing a vacation, she flees the city and discovers her grandfather’s legacy was more extensive than remembered, in “Unmixed Wine” by John “JAM” Arthur Miller.¶
“Game Play” by Dy Loveday finds Victoria fleeing a miscast conjuration. It cost her sister her life and now she must face an immortal evil.¶
The world changed at Woodstock. Pan thought he was ushering a new age. As it turns out he was—just not the one he was envisioning in “Layin’ a Brodie” by J.S. Reinhardt.¶
A blogger goes to Alabama to photograph a fountain featuring a satyr. “Witchcraft & Devilry” by Bennie L. Newsome explores the potential of statuary, but not necessarily as art.¶
“To Dance Among Your Puppets” is W.H. Pugmire’s far too brief contribution to the anthology, a languid mélange of art and loss.
“The Briggs’ Hill Path” by Josh Reynolds finds a new appearance of his occult investigators Harley Warren and Randolph Carter, his interpretation of the characters in Lovecraft’s “The Statement of Randolph Carter” with a little “Fungi from Yuggoth” added for good measure. ¶
Goat Songs by Satyr is a LP album from the sixties, the holy grail of vinyl collectors. Just watch out for the last track; it’s a bit of a buzz kill in “Goat Songs” by Mark Valentine.¶
Nell is visited over Christmas by her crazy uncle in “Uncle Kantzaros” by Iain Grant. The question is who is crazier: the free-spirited satyr or Nell, safely ensconced in her middle-class obscurity?