The Golden Helm

More Tales from the Edge of Sleep

Fiction - Fantasy - General
134 Pages
Reviewed on 01/16/2018
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Author Biography

Victoria grew up in New York, attended Oberlin College, and traveled across the US four or five times in a red camper truck. She survived the Summer of Love in Haight-Ashbury, and has worked as a post office clerk, a sign painter, a waitress, a sales clerk, a social worker, a nursing assistant and a registered nurse. In 1993 she converted to the Catholic Church. She had two children in ’74 and ’75; in 93 and 95 she and her husband adopted two more and acquired a stepdaughter. She lives in Seattle, Washington.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

The Golden Helm: More Tales from the Edge of Sleep is a collection of fantasy short stories written by Victoria Randall. In her iconic collection, Randall explores realms of fantasy that include epic tales of dragons, fanciful stories of unicorns and virgins, glimpses at the dark horror of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos and even a new take on the transfiguration from man to werewolf during the full phase of the moon. In her opening story, The Golden Helm, a young wife’s agony over being unable to have children sends her distraught husband on an adventure that will change their lives and restore harmony to their world. In Dinosaur Voices, a young child knows all too well what dangers lie within the seemingly innocent bath her cruel aunt is determined to have her bathe in. And in Apple Seed, a young girl’s life is bordered by her beloved tree which is far more sentient than anyone dreams.

Victoria Randall’s collection of fantasy short stories, The Golden Helm: More Tales from the Edge of Sleep, is a well-written and engaging set of stories featuring compelling characters who find themselves in most unusual situations. I especially enjoyed Randall’s homage to Lovecraft: Beyond the Caverns of Madness, which evoked memories of Lovecraft’s short story: Beyond the Walls of Sleep and her story about archaeologist John Riley seemed to materialize straight out of Lovecraft’s fevered imagination. Incident in the Library is a masterful blend of science fiction and fantasy and was a delight to read. My favorite tale, however, would have to be Scent of Evil, which is an atmospheric and moody werewolf tale that has depth and power. Randall’s writing is smooth and assured, and her abilities to enthrall and challenge the imagination are well represented within the pages of this collection. The Golden Helm: More Tales from the Edge of Sleep is most highly recommended.

Grant Leishman

Short stories are often the inspiration for novels and in The Golden Helm: More Tales from the Edge of Sleep, Victoria Randall has brought us an eclectic collection of tales built around sleep and dreaming. This is the theme that links the stories together, but the stories themselves are as wide and as varied as the imagination. Randall brings us tales as diverse as a journey back to the time of Christ in a time machine to offer Mary, mother of Jesus, a parenting choice in Parenthood by Choice Inc. Invests in a Time Machine, through to a story of aliens visiting the local library, looking for information on Earth's defence systems in Incident in the Library. In total, the author gives us twelve tales, some long, some short, but all of them satisfying.

I think, as a reader, it is too easy to get caught up in the idea of reading full-length novels and it is wonderful, from time to time, to take a break and read some short stories, especially ones as well written as these in The Golden Helm: More Tales from the Edge of Sleep. As in any collection or anthology, there are some stories that spoke to me and warmed my heart more than others, but I can say that each of them in this wonderful collection has something interesting and worthy of being said. My personal favourites are a little difficult to choose, but I was definitely taken by The Unicorn in the Garden, which I found to be extremely and descriptively evocative and beautiful in its simplicity. Equally, the title story, The Golden Helm, was sweet and rewarding. This whole collection is well worth the read and as I haven't read Victoria Randall before, I am sure I will be in the future. I must investigate her earlier Tales from the Edge of Sleep. An excellent collection of stories to be kept by the bedside for reading and rereading.

Charles Remington

The Golden Helm is the first story in a collection by Victoria Randall which is subtitled More Tales from the Edge of Sleep, made up of twelve short stories covering a wide spread of subject matter rooted in the science fiction or fantasy genres. There are tales of adventure, with the hero of The Golden Helm bringing an end to a bloody conflict by clever use of a magic helmet; there is a charming tale which describes the feelings of an apple tree as it watches a young girl play in its shade and swing on its branches, growing to love her as she ages, and helping her in its own way as she marries and starts a family. You will find creatures from the dark side of the universe, dragons and werewolves, and dog men who have been genetically modified to work tirelessly in the mines of a barren planet. There are aliens making trips to the local library, and unicorns visiting young women facing the dilemma of their first sexual encounter. Unusual stories such as the tale of an elderly woman who crochets clothes and blankets for a local children’s home, who receives an astounding offer, or one which includes the Virgin Mary receiving a visit from a time-travelling clinic. An extraordinary but worthy anthology in which it will hardly be difficult to find a personal gem.

I must admit that I was surprised and sometimes unprepared for some of the subject matter dealt with in this collection. The Golden Helm kicks off the collection with a fairly standard fairy tale which includes mermaids, flying wolves and evil dictators, but there are also tales with much more complex meanings, parables really, with Christian backgrounds and unambiguous moral messages. Clothed in tales of fantasy and science fiction, Victoria Randall expounds her views on abortion, mortality, faith and pre-marital sex. This is in no way a bad thing - personally, I would rather be challenged by a piece of prose than wander aimlessly through inconsequential yarns. Victoria Randall is an accomplished author who has produced a volume of carefully structured, well-written, thought-provoking stories, tales with more depth than would appear at first glance. I may not agree with some of the views expressed in this collection, but I do not hesitate to recommend it. Read the stories and make your own judgement.