Bordertown: a city on the border between our human world and the elfin realm. Runaway teens come from both sides of the border to find adventure, to find themselves. Elves play in rock bands and race down the street on spell-powered motorbikes. Human kids recreate themselves in the squats and clubs and artists' studios of Soho. Terri Windling's original Bordertown series was the forerunner of today's urban fantasy, introducing authors that included Charles de Lint, Will Shetterly, Emma Bull, and Ellen Kushner. In this volume of all-new work (including a 15-page graphic story), the original writers are now joined by the generation that grew up dreaming of Bordertown, including acclaimed authors Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman, Catherynne M. Valente, and many more. They all meet here on the streets of Bordertown in more than twenty new interconnected songs, poems, and stories.Yes, yes, this is my second anthology review in as many weeks. Shut up, I've been finding some really good ones.
I'm not quite sure why I didn't pick up Welcome to Bordertown when it first came out, other than A) I was busy with finals and I forgot about it, and B) I'm occasionally really stupid and doubt the awesomeness of authors. Thankfully, Cassandra Yorgey saw that I was blind and showed me the light. Namely, she did this by scoring me a pass to FaerieCon East where I got to meet AND HAVE TEA with Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman (Guys! Ellen Kushner bought me tea!) so that I would understand their awesomeness, and then she lent me her ARC to read. Now I keep this book next to my bed, beside my Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide, in case of emergencies.
Beautiful writing by a ton of authors, many of whom I know and others I am looking forward to reading more from. Welcome to Bordertown really explores and makes use of the best aspects of writing in an anthology. There is a world - Bordertown - that has established rules, geography, history, which must be obeyed by everyone. But working within those rules, writers can do whatever they want. And that leads to a collection of stories as varied as the dwellers of Bordertown themselves. Characters of every ethnicity, gender, species, age, sexual orientation, etc can find a place and a voice in the stories of Welcome to Bordertown - which, by the way, is a great way to make readers feel welcome.
The stories progress in a sort of chaotic order. In the first few stories, we're introduced to this hopeful new world, where the misfits and unorthodox have a place and anything is possible. More stories expose us to everyday life in Bordertown and the risks it poses to its' occupants, both old and new, stripping away some of the promise of Bordertown and turning into a place like any other. Full of dangers. Full of opportunities. Just like everywhere else. Finally, as we near the end, we see the darker side of Bordertown, with its injustices and the people willing fight against them. It's a beautiful storytelling arch, showing us that even with magic and faeries, you can't run away from your problems forever. Happily ever afters must be fought for constantly.
There's not so much Bad in this anthology as there are personal requests. More comics. Fewer poems. More poems. No comics at all. Why is there a motorcycle on the cover?
My standard warning for anthologies applies here: Not all stories are created equal. It is more than likely that readers are not going to like every story in here. But you're going to like an awful lot of them, I promise.
Beyond being great YA, this is just a great book period. I would recommend it to anyone interested in fantasy, and frequently do. I sincerely hope it won't be another 13 years before the next Bordertown book comes out.
My Rating: 5/5 Mushrooms.