There’s something entirely delicious about stories that swathe the ancient and magical in the humdrum drabness of modernity. For some reason I feel like I’m given a rare opportunity – a sneak peek into a world I have no right to see. It also gives the modern world – something that gets a little too adult and responsible and tiring at times – a bit of glamour and mystery.
I admit to wondering if every third person I meet on the street is some kind of secret engkanto, working at the call centre because it’s funnier to answer irate calls than hang around a rainforest.
This is also why some of my favourite graphic novels (or comic books; I’m not that good with labels) are Fables and Trese.
Eliza Victoria’s Lower Myths does just that, although it interestingly visits both sides of the fence, so to speak. To elaborate is to give away far too much, but suffice it to say that the rising star of Philippine speculative fiction (I prefer to call her the Apocalyptic Star, because 2012, bitches) does a fine job weaving magic into this humdrum world. It’s not her first attempt, too. Her short story in the Alternative Alamat collection is both chilling and nostalgic.
That said, it is entirely personal preference that leads me to say that the first story is my favourite. (There are only two stories in this collection, so get back to work, author!) The story is entirely too short, true, but the presence of magic and magical beings in a scenario far too human (so much guns, Eliza, but this gangster movie addict isn’t complaining) cannot be described as anything other than wicked. Fairies versus warlocks sounds like a very Michael Bay movie, but she pulls it off with aplomb and the story never strays from its slightly humorous, slightly askew nature.
It’s notable that despite the very Filipino roots, Lower Myths never feels alienating. In other words, this is my very transparent attempt of encouraging friends (Filipino or otherwise) to get a copy. On Amazon and Flipreads, go.
[Full disclosure: Eliza Victoria is a Twitter/Doctor Who friend. We’ve never met in person, but I speak to her more often than I do my actual RL friends, so that’s something, I guess. Also, I bought the book and no bribes/promises of lap dances were offered. I just really like her work.]