Realms of Fantasy (April 2006)

Review by Karen Stevens

Well, well – a copy of RoF without a skimpily dressed female on the cover! Instead we have ‘The Hounds of Morrigan’, a picture of the Celtic war goddess surrounded by a pack of Irish wolfhounds.

Inside, skip past the adverts and we find reviews: game reviews, book reviews and movie reviews. As well as reviews, the movie section has an in-dept feature about the horror film Silent Hill. There’s also a piece about the tradition of fairies in theatre which would’ve been improved by tighter editing, and an article about the artist Tom Kidd. And the fiction. Oh, yes, the fiction…

The fiction side of the magazine is made up of half a dozen short stories of varying quality. Karen Abrahamson’s ‘Lady of Ashuelot’ is an Arthurian tale of sorts. Set in modern day America, Guinevere and the Lady of the Lake are living in peaceful anonymity until Lancelot arrives, demanding the return of Excalibur to re-unite Britain, even though its power is preserving the small backwater town.

The second story, ‘Moon Viewing at Shijo Bridge’ by Richard Parks is my personal favourite. Set in a fantastical version of medieval Japan, a private investigator must clear the name of a princess to save her from exile. He faces not only the intricate policies of the imperial court, but also sorcery and demons. I found this story thoroughly enjoyable, and well written.

‘Anywhere There’s Game’ by Greg van Eekhout is a story about an old basketball player running through the five most remarkable players he ever met. I know nothing about basketball, but still found it enjoyable.

Devon Monk’s ‘Ducks in a Row’ is a short, tightly-written piece about a boy with unusual powers extracting justice from a crooked duck-shot owner at the carnival.

‘Jane. A Story of Manners, Magic and Romance’ by Sarah Prineas tells the story of Jane, living with her uncle in a castle strangely attractive to magic elementals. I assume the writer is a fan of writers such as Jane Austen, but as I’ve never read any of her novels I must confess the old-fashioned story and style left me cold.

The final story, Jena Snyder’s ‘Heart of Ice’ is a little trying due to its predictability: a young man is attracted to a strange woman, and going back to her cottage with her: could she possibly be the wittigo, a creature of ice which devours people?

In short, I strongly recommend RoF; it’s traditional fantasy, well written.

This review originally appeared in Prism.