Then the magic returned, and the world was changed forever. Once again, the lands of Faerie bordered the lands of Man, and in the middle, there arose Bordertown, from the ashes of an unnamed mortal city. It was a place of magic, music, excitement, hope, dreams, energy, death, despair, hopelessness, nightmares, heroes and villains, men and monsters, and above all, people. A living, thriving town full of unpredictable wonders and untamable shadows. The bastard child of Haight-Ashbury and SoHo and Hollywood, the black sheep cousin of Underhill and Arcadia and Tir Na’Nog, the seductive and disreputable and scandalous older cousin your parents always told you to stay away from.
In short, the perfect place for runaways from both sides of the Curtain to run to. The only real place where humans and the Fae (the Trueblood) could interact on something resembling remote terms, Bordertown attracted all sorts of people. The starstruck, the dreamers, the hopeless and helpless, the runaways, those obsessed with the Fae, the predators. And that’s where it all begins … in Bordertown.
Back in the mid-80s, New American Library wanted a fantasy anthology series comparable to the then-popular Thieves World. Windling and Arnold brought in some of the best in the urban fantasy field to help them flesh out their new world. Ellen Kushner, Charles de Lint, Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Midori Synder, Craig Shaw Gardner and more all contributed. Bellamy Bach, an author who contributed to several of the anthologies, was actually a pseudonym shared by a number of New York-based creative talents, and it has since been revealed that the true author of all Bordertown-related Bach stories (and only the Bordertown stories!) was Terri Windling herself.
So this book is a collection of Bordertown stories. They seem primarily YA in tone and content, being about teenage and young adult runaways, with the land of Faerie symbolizing Authority, disguised as magic. There are a number of these anthologies now, and they are very popular with the fantasy crowd. I did not enjoy them as much as I thought I would, having waited until my fifties to run away myself, and also having found that I prefer the much more complex plots and worlds of fantasy works such as Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, here, here, and here, and Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast, here and here.
But if you like fantasy, I would definitely give any of the several Bordertown/Borderland anthologies a go. They are all well written, just not my cup of tequila.