This collection of stories, most of them originally published between the mid-1970’s and the early 1990’s, is weighted toward works similar in theme and style to the novella that gives the collection its title. “The Bone Forest” is original to this anthology. In all the stories, Robert Holdstock calls up images of humanity’s past and its relationship to its present and future through the guiding link of the myths and stories that are passed down, in variation upon variation, through the ages.
“The Bone Forest” itself is part of Holdstock’s Mythago Cycle consisting of Mythago Wood (1984), Lavondyss (1988), and The Hollowing (1993). These tales explore the mysterious tract of primary oak forest in Britain called Ryhope Wood and its “mythagos,” manifestations of mythological archetypes and symbols of the collective unconscious. In Ryhope Wood, the myths and legends of humanity’s past come to life. The forest, only a small woodland on the outside, contains vast regions within its interior.
The novella returns to the characters in the original novel—George Huxley and his two sons, Steven and Christian—but in a time when the brothers are still children and George Huxley has only begun to map and understand the wood’s outer defenses. Finally he and his companion, Edward Wynne-Jones, make a breakthrough, but instead of offering further understanding it leads to a series of strange, disturbing...
(The entire section is 540 words.)