________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 10. . . .November 8, 2013


Urban Green Man.

Adria Laycraft & Janice Blaine, eds.
Calgary, AB: Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, 2013.
264 pp., trade pbk. & e-Book, $14.95 (trade pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-77053-038-6. (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-77053-039-3 (e-Book).

Subject Headings:
Green Man (Tale)-Fiction.
Fantasy fiction.

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.

Review by Ronald Hore.

*** /4



Gran has a way of looking at you with her pale blue eyes that makes you feel she can read minds. It’s creepy and invasive. I know she doesn’t mean to pry, but sometimes, with her grey dread-locks and bits of feather dangling from her ears like Christmas ornaments gone mad, she’s too ‘woo woo’ for words.

“A general reading is fine,” I say. I don’t want to confide that I’m worried about my future– whether I should go to law school in Calgary like my parents want, or be happy with my Poli-Sci degree and get an entry level government job until I figure myself out. I’m in Ukee– Ucluelet– Gran’s home town on the west coast of Vancouver Island. If anything could help me decide my future, the cedars, Sitka spruce, and miles of misty shoreline will do it.

“You don’t have to do anything you don’t want, Cat,” Gran says. I know she’s thinking about Mom and my step-dad, Evan, and how they’ve been pushing me to commit to law school. I haven’t even laid out the cards. (From “Evergreen”.)


This 264 page trade paperback volume is broken into several sections. It opens with a content page listing the introduction and the five sections: “Earth”, “Air”, “Fire”, “Water”, and “Wood”. A small sketch accompanies each of the five section headings. Next follows the two acknowledgment pages, the first in a graphic taking the form of a tree, the second in a page of text. The introduction, titled “The Spirit of the Wild Wood” opens with a poem and takes up five pages. What follows after that are the sections and related stories. Each section leads off with a full-page black and white illustration, and each story has a small b&w picture above the title. The majority of the tales revolve around the Green Man, aka the Wildman of the Woods, Herne the Hunter, and the Green Knight. A short bio of each author appears at the end of that author’s respective tale.

     “Earth”: There are seven short stories in this section. The first, “Evergreen”, follows a young woman who cannot decide on her career path, and she meets up with a dangerous someone who might help, or hinder her. Next is “The Gift” and an interesting meeting in a bar. “Sap and Blood” tells of a tall building that surrenders to the wilderness. “The Green Square” explores what might go wrong when a father does not pay enough attention to his young daughter and her mysterious playmate. “Awake” is a poem about the wakening of the Green Man. In the “Breath Stirs in the Husk”, a 14-year-old girl learns what unfortunately happens when the Green Man is looking for a baby. The next story, “Green Apples", tells of what takes place when the Green Man meets up with a dryad who yearns to travel.

     “Air”: This section consists of six stories, opening with “The Grey Man”. In this tale, readers encounter a character defending a small piece of green space with a loaded gun. In “Mr. Green”, nature takes over from a slowly decaying material world. Next is “Whithergreen” in which a desperate farm widow goes in search of the creature who is causing the drought. “Cui Bono” sends a paranormal detective in search of the Green Man. “Fallow God” is a poem linking Greek mythology to the modern world. “Green Man She Restless” follows the adventures of a woman, Dr. Pallavi, who is trying to save a piece of nature in a corporate-controlled world.

     “Fire”: “Purple Vine Flowers” is a tale of the daughter trying to take her rightful place as the Green Woman. This is followed by a poem, “Exile”, about the Green Man wandering through town. “Without Blemish” tells of a girl whose mother just happens to be a tree. In “Waking the Holly Kin”, readers find a nervous woman going on a blind date and discovering something else altogether than what she expected. The next story, “Deer Feet”, explores two young girls going on an adventure in the city while wearing deer feet that one of them built on a 3D printer. “Buried in the Green” tells of a fight to save a tract of land from developers. The final tale in this section, “The Forest Lord”, tells of a woman expecting to retreat to a quiet cabin in the woods and discovering that she has some very strange neighbors.

     “Water”: “Greentropy” is a poem about plants taking over the world. The next story, “Abandon All...”, has a bullied young boy who finally gets his revenge on his tormentors in a cemetery. “Green Salvage” is a tale of a young woman who must search for her missing Gran, and who finds a connection to a certain tree. “The Ring of Life” tells the story of a grandfather and a special tree. In “Cottage on the Bluff”, a natural force has to come to the rescue of the very people he despises. The next tale, “Johnny Serious”, is about a youth who finds love with his doppleganger. Next is “Fun Sucker”, a story told through emails between certain of the gods of Greece and Egypt, and of course, the Green Man.

     “Wood”: The first story in this section is “Greener Pastures”. Set in the modern business world, it tells of a collision between two forces of nature. Next is Green Jack which is about a futuristic city and the lengths its citizens will go to restrain nature for their own ends. “Green is Good” is a story about a woman’s attempt to control nature for her own advancement. The final tale, “Neither Slumber Nor Sleep”, has a rabbi dealing with a slightly out-of-control force of nature in downtown Nanaimo, BC.

     An interesting anthology of wide-ranging stories that do not fall into the usual categories of straight horror or fantasy complete with the usual elves, Urban Green Man should appeal to the reader in search of something just a little bit different, and perhaps thoughtful. Other than the connection with nature, and the occasional appearance of the Green Man in his various guises, the tales cover a wide range of plots and settings.


Ronald Hore, a member of several writing groups, pens medieval-style fantasy and fantasy detective stories in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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