Review by M.P. Ericson
This issue has a werewolf theme: a spooky full-moon cover, a Folkroots column on werewolves in folklore, and (in the fiction section) a modern retelling set in a Siberian labour camp. There’s also an article on the TV series Nightmares and Dreamscapes, based on eight short stories by Stephen King, and reviews of a selection of books and games.
On to the fiction. A.C. Wise opens with ‘Robin of the Green’, a reinterpretation of the Robin Hood legend in which Robin is identified as the god Pan. A fine idea, but the story is atrocious: badly written, clumsy, and trite.
‘Pavel Petrovich’ by Daniel Hood is the aforementioned werewolf story, and would have made a better lead. The setting didn’t convince me – it feels very much written by a sheltered American – but the tale of a man fighting tuberculosis with magical tattoos is riveting.
Catherine Krahe provides a morality tale with ‘Undine’, the story of a young girl who wallows in self-pity until she meets someone less fortunate than herself. Apart from the ghastly main character, this is a nice story: beautifully written and with an unexpected twist at the end.
Jim C. Hines brings us torture and sexual abuse in ‘Sister of the Hedge’, a take on the Sleeping Beauty legend. The story is passable but not great, and the characters unengaging.
For no discernible reason, Josh Rountree (billed as Roundtree) provides ‘A Better Place’, in which two brothers encounter a sandstorm and only one walks away. Simplistic and moralistic.
‘Schwarze Madonna and the Sandalwood Knight’ by Ruth Nestvold and Jay Lake is a tedious, clunky, repetitive account of a young farmer’s quest for revenge after his beloved is killed in front of him.
Patrice E. Sarath’s ‘Ice’ is another passable story, featuring an ageing ice-hockey player and a mysterious patron of the ballet. It’s pleasant enough, but can’t make up for the failures that precede it.
But there’s a happy ending after all. The Gallery article covers fantasy artist Rob Alexander, whose gorgeous watercolours bring hope to a weary reader. There’s always a golden lining, if you know where to look.
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This review originally appeared in Prism.