Realms of Fantasy (June 2006)

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.

Cover price: $3.99. Yearly subscription: $16.95 USA, $21.95 Canada and Overseas. Address: Realms of Fantasy, P.O. Box 1623, Williamsport, PA 17703, USA. Website: www.rofmagazine.com

This review originally appeared in Prism.