Datlow and Windling; how can you go wrong? You can't! They're a couple of the best editors out there. Of course, that doesn't mean that I love every story, but this is a really good anthology.
The 'theme' her eis that of the 19th-century salon - but that just basically means, 'anything goes.' There is no theme. Not all the stories are fantasy, either, although it says 'fantasy' right there in the subtitle. But that's OK by me.
All the stories were new to this book (2006), so they were all new to me.
La Fee Verte - Delia Sherman
This first story is the only one that really fits with the 19th-century salon theme. Brothels, a war-torn city, and a lesbian love story... complicated by some Cassandra-esque visions. Loved it.
Dust Devil on a Quiet Street by Richard Bowes
Set in NYC's East Village - which I loved, but I began to feel that the setting was trying just a smidge too hard. A magic ring may bring artistic success... and some people will kill for it.
To Measure the Earth by Jedediah Berry
A remote farmhouse, plagued by unquiet ghosts.
A Gray and Soundless Tide by Catherynne M. Valente
A classic tale of selkies... but with a new and disturbing twist.
Concealment Shoes by Marly Youmans
A family moves into an old house, and finds pairs of antique shoes in the chimneys. Intrigued, they take them to the historical society and leave them to be researched. But those shoes were there for a reason, and now they are without protection.
The Guardian of the Egg by Christopher Barzak
A surreal piece of weird fiction about a boy whose sister one day finds a tree growing out of her head - and realizes she has been called to an arcane purpose.
My Travels with Al-Qaeda by Lavie Tidhar
Interesting piece, musing of conflict & terrorism, but I didn't see it as fantasy, and didn't really feel it fit in with the collection.
Chandail by Peter S. Beagle
Wow. I LOVED this story. The feel of it reminded me a lot of Rosemary Kirstein's Steerswoman series - I'm not sure why. The best part? The notes told me there is A BUNCH OF BOOKS set in this world, and I haven't read them! But I will! Really, a strong and effective tale of a woman's encounter with an alien creature whose nature is to 'play' with human memories and emotion.
Down the Wall by Greer Gilman
Really more of a prose poem than a story. The language is beautiful. But it gets in the way of the story. I often love stylized language, but there needs to be a balance. Maybe I would have felt differently, in a different mood.
Femaville 29 by Paul Di Filippo
In a temporary refugee camp, people make do after a disastrous tsunami. Lives are up in the air, adults try to deal with indecision, try to reforge relationships and create a future from unknowns. But the children spend all their time building an eerily detailed model of an imaginary city...
Nottamun Town by Gregory Maguire
A dying soldier's life flashes before his eyes, kaleidoscope-fashion. Really not fantasy. I don't like Gregory Maguire as much as (it seems) most of the rest of the world does.
Yours, Etc. by Gavin J. Grant
A marriage, plagued by ghosts.
The Mask of '67 by David Prill
A really weird story, with the feeling of an allegory. A small-town-girl made good comes back to her hometown. A festival is planned. But she arrives wearing a bizarre metal mask. People are freaked out. The only one to accept her is the teen boyfriend she dumped, who's always carried a torch for her. But the mask isn't the end of it, and things progress...
The Night Whiskey by Jeffrey Ford
Man, those people in small towns, getting up to their weird shenanigans. This small town secretly conducts a ritual involving drinking a liquor made from the "death-berry" that allows the participants to communicate with the dead.
The Lepidopterist by Lucius Shepard
Hmm. Would bizarrely beautiful butterflies that could maybe-pass for people allow anyone to take over the world? It seems unlikely. But this tall-tale is nice and weird.