A Bunch of Wild, Filthy Animals (A Review of Daniel Polansky’s ‘The Builders’)

The Farmington Review

Review by Curtis Cole

                Dark fairy tales, of the kind told by either gothic horror artists or immature teenagers, are difficult affair to create; reorienting the genre’s hallmarks—anthropomorphized animals, a kingdom in distress, and a valiant hero—can be hard to reconcile without overcompensating and presenting ‘shock value’ literary devices. Thankfully, an enclave of authors has no trouble in successfully redefining the tropes usually associated with talking forest critters and bedtime stories. Skilled with the pen, these people blend genres to create a prism within the pages of their tale which warps the clichés into something decidedly not clichéd.

Daniel Polansky and his short but lovable read The builders marks him as one of these caveat authors. Redeploying the idea of a western to fit a grim fantasy-steampunk endeavor, Polansky conjures up a pack of warrior animals out for revenge. Led by the unscrupulous Captain, a war-hardened mouse who have…

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