Many ancient cultures were matriarchal societies where women tended to hold the power. This was reflected in their religions where the main deities were a goddess. The mother goddess had three aspects of the maiden, matron and crone, portraying three major stages of women’s lives. _Maiden, Matron, Crone_ edited by Kerrie Hughes and Martin H. Greenberg contains thirteen stories exploring the triple goddess in her various forms. Stories range from poignant to serious, which many readers will find entertaining.
Elise is a runaway, wandering around the country by hitchhiking. She finds herself stranded along an empty road, walking until she encounters a mysterious woman in a berry thicket. “A Lingering Scent of Bacon” by Brenda Cooper follows Elise as she encounters different women that help her to make an important decision. The author creates a sympathetic character that readers will like and want to see how her story ends.
“Strikes of the Heart” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman is a story of three gene rations of women. Kishi is the granddaughter of the powerful wizard Omara who raised her. Laran, Kishi’s mother, is a warrior for the king. Kishi has a plant for a husband. She uses her magic to help at the castle. Her grandmother is showing signs of aging. When a man tries to rape her, Kishi discovers she is the victim of her grandmother’s spell. Laran is raped too. The king grows uneasy with Omara being so powerful but no longer in her right mind. Kishi must find a way to stop Omara. Ms. Hoffman creates a strong story with memorable characters and interesting magic.
In “Misery and Woe” by Jean Rabe, Elspeth is happy with her new home. She is a witch and wears the matron aspect of the goddess. Her main problem is the men of the village. They make excuses to visit her every chance because she is well endowed. This creates problems with the wives too. The author creates an interesting story with a strong theme through vivid, tight descriptions. A little humor runs through the story too, which ends in an unexpected way.
Celtic Fantasy is represented in a story about ancient Ireland. Brae is a woman warrior of the Fianna, an elite band of warriors of the king. She is teaching her young protege Etaine to be a warrior. Etaine has a vision that brings Brae into a quest with two other women to solve Etaine’s vision. “The Three Gems of the Fianna” by Fiona Patton is a lively story of strong women. Ms. Patton brings the legends of ancient Ireland to life with memorable characters and a fascinating story.
“The Unicorn Hunt” by Michelle West is an Urban Fantasy with a dark edge and a twist on the unicorn hunt. Told in the first person point of view of the main character, this story is about the three aspects of the goddess embodied in three real women. They live in the real world and unicorns play a different role then they do in mythology. The main character helps Maggie, the Mother, to save the Maiden from danger with help from the main character’s acerbic grandmother. Ms. West provides a good story with interesting characters full of insight.
_Maiden, Matron, Crone_ edited by Kerrie Hughes and Martin H. Greenberg is an anthology of entertaining stories, which focus on the three aspects of the goddess. The stories have women in various stages that range from strong women to those learning life lessons. Readers will find many enjoyable stories to read contributed by good writers of the genre.