Archive for June, 2010
Tapestry of Tales
Book review by A. R. Braun
In Tapestry of Tales, Sarah Deckard gives us a multitude of protagonists and antagonists to entertain us deep into the night with the timeless writers’ question, What if? What if the elder brother of twelve sisters becomes a necromancer and tries to destroy them by dancing them to death? What if when a princess kisses a frog, it brings her to ruin? What if waking Sleeping Beauty invites a sanguine doom?
Sarah’s warped fairy tales bring to mind yarns I learned in school with a fresh and evocative twist. The lusty, violent and sometimes perverted plot twists are something you’ve never read before, though you’ve perused the basic plots. “Zodiac Dancers” brings the reader to a hidden underworld of dangers. “The Enchanted Kiss” makes the reader question selfishness. “The Sleeper” ends in a way you won’t see coming, showing her expertise when working in the dark fantasy genre.
I found the collection quite refreshing, a genre I don’t usually read but was able to enjoy whole-heartedly. The tome is not predictable or tiresome, the stories bringing to mind morals, questioning avarice and narcissism and evoking surprise and sometimes shock when the endings are revealed. I definitely recommend this to any fantasy aficionado.
Shadow of the Antlered Bird
Book review by Amber Stults
Shadow of the Antlered Bird is about Tam. Born of a fairy mother and human man, he’s at an age where he wishes to strike out on his own and learn more about the human side of himself. He uses the knowledge of magic gained from his mother to keep her from finding him. It’s not that Tam is superior at magic or his mother’s ability is inferior. In fact, she’s quite powerful. He uses different materials in his spells in order to obfuscate his mother’s ability to track him. As a result of her interference with one of Tam’s spells, something is released that has desires of its own. And it wants to have Tam’s life by any means.
April, a human, joins Tam on his cross-country trip simply because he’s her friend. It doesn’t hurt that he’s kind of cute too. She teaches him more about being human than he was able to learn on his own.
The fairy world of David Sklar’s making is not like the others I’ve encountered. Many have dark undertones in their dealings with Tam but they aren’t malicious. They recognize whatever is after Tam is powerful and they’re more worried about self preservation than about angering Tam’s mother.
The themes in Tam’s story are timeless ones told with humor and honesty. Shadow of the Antlered Bird is an engaging read that happens to be a page turner.
Book review by Amber Stults
Unholy Embrace by Neil Benson is the tale of what happens to Frank after he meets a vampire in a bar. Frank is an architect in his 30’s who spends his spare time oil painting or drinking Heineken. He does not believe in vampires, werewolves or other supernatural creatures.
His mind changes after meeting Nessa, a Hungarian vampire who is several hundred years old. Whatever his intention when he enters the upscale vampire nightclub, he leaves with Nessa and a chance at love. His association with Nessa brings him into contact with werewolves and other supernatural creatures he never imagined he’d meet.
Chapters vary between Frank’s and Nessa’s point of view but mostly the story is told from Frank’s viewpoint. The plot is solid but the characters didn’t come alive for me. Their interactions with other people are minimal.
Benson’s back story for Nessa is solid and believable. At first it’s difficult to see what Nessa finds attractive about Frank. The attraction is probably his skepticism and his loyalty. This book has action sequences and love scenes but is not a straight horror or straight romance so keep that in mind if you’re not a fan of both.
A pale faerie ponders in a sepia wood. A blue-lipped beauty tips her head alluringly beneath a Gothic arch. An exotically attractive otherworldly assassin stands proud beneath a green moon. A weird but strangely intriguing figure in red wanders a checkerboard world. A lavender-haired heroine looks to follow her path of destiny through a tortured landscape. Fantasy goes digital in the colourful creations of the digital artist Junior Mclean.
O. Mclean, Jr. showed artistic talent from an early age. A self-taught graphic designer, Junior studied basic web page building and then began work on graphic and digital design for a handful of clubs and events. He found great artistic and practical inspiration while working at various anime and comic book conventions in the New York City area. He now wishes to be an inspiration to younger generations, hoping to motivate the creativity of future artists.
Being greatly influenced by the art of anime, much of Junior’s work exhibits an anime vibe. Once he discovered 3D rendering, Junior began to connect with others interested in that style of art. Working as a freelance digital artist, he creates and sells various 2D/3D print designs, as well as fractal designs. Mid-town and Times Square are his favourite sites to hang out and work on his digital creations.
Review: Tapestry of Tales: Classic Fairy Tales Retold
Author: Sarah Deckard
Reviewer: Kari Wolfe, Imperfect Clarity
Did you ever wish you could change the ending of the fairy tales you read as a child?
In “Tapestry of Tales: Classic Fairy Tales Retold,” Sarah Deckard has taken a large dose of fairy dust and sprinkled it liberally on her keyboard. Using fairy tales such as “Rapunzel,” “Rumpelstiltskin,” and “The Little Mermaid,” she has rewritten them, changing the narrator’s point of view, their ends and even the story themes themselves.
Ms. Deckard has done a great job of keeping the original spirit of each author alive in the stories she has chosen. The themes chosen fit seemlessly into each setting as you might remember and add a surprising touch and modern twist to the stories. For example, in “The Gilded Cage,” a spin on the story of Rapunzel and her long hair, we see a more independent Rapunzel who slowly realizes the world isn’t necessarily what her rescuing prince tells her to be.
The stories I enjoyed most were the ones I had read as a child such as “Little Red Riding Hood,” Ms. Deckard’s version entitled “Beware of Wolves.” In this adaptation, we learn that sometimes it’s not the wild animals that you need to watch out for.
Being partial to books that draw upon my own reading experiences, it was fun to try and determine what the original fairy tale was and then to see how Ms. Deckard took the characters and made them her own. Ms. Deckard has brought the childhood world of the fairy tale to adulthood.
Hiram Grange and the Digital Eucharist
Book Review by A. R. Braun
Hiram Grange is an unlikely hero. With a penchant for loose women, drugs and booze, who would expect him to be a demon hunter? But that’s exactly what he is, fighting to keep the demons in hell and off the streets. A long-haired, gun-toting protagonist who loves hard-loving, young chicks? You know I’m all over this series!
In Hiram Grange and the Digital Eucharist by Robert Davies, Hiram shows up with his cohorts, preventing a demon named Giblis from entering our world. He does so, but not without sacrificing the life of his now worst enemy’s girlfriend, a lithe, supple beauty. The other survivor gives him The Scorpion’s Kiss, a bomb blast of a drug stash, hoping it will do him in. Hiram must go up against the Occultionist’s Tower, a deadly corporation helping the demon, Giblis, come back into the world . . . and now he’s hunting Hiram, the man responsible for preventing his entry last time. Will Hiram have to drink The Digital Eucharist, a symbiotic potion primed to take the conscience of man away, to gain entry and fight the demon?
I enjoyed the raw humor and the subject matter. It wasn’t a bad novella by any means. Some of the description at the end I felt a bit anticlimactic. Everything else was rock solid, nothing boring and tedious. There’s plenty of gripping, gory details and amazing artwork throughout the graphic novella. The non-cumbersome ninety-seven page read held my attention throughout. It’s definitely the best graphic novella since Stephen King’s Silver Bullet. I could have done without the author’s comment at the end, saying mimetic writing is for wimps when talking about writing of lobster girls and laser beams. Seeing as two other writers wrote the first two books, this comment doesn’t make sense to me. Otherwise, a quick, fun read that kept my attention.
A. R. Braun
Just a quick note to let you know that the impossible has happened. My submission inboxes are both empty. Empty! That means I have responded to every submission I’ve received as of this exact moment. If you’ve not heard from me I didn’t get it, so please resubmit. It also means I need some more submissions to consider for our September issue. As of right now I don’t have very many pieces accepted, so there are lots of spaces left for your work. 🙂
p.s. We re-opened to fiction submissions today.
Issue number twelve of Niteblade is now live and ready for your reading pleasure. It’s a shorter issue than many of our previous ones (as is reflected in the reduced price for the pdf) but it’s packed with awesome. I kid you not. Check it out, and leave a comment on your favorite pieces — the author’s really love that.
Also, how awesome is that cover? <3