Cabinet of Wonders: Forbidden Fruit & Vengeful Goddesses

coat-of-arms-with-the-skull-albrecht-durer-1471-1528

Illustration by Albrecht Durer 1471-1528

short fiction reviews by Lauren Colie

Forbidden fruit, vengeful goddesses and the ever-present danger of knowing: all this and more in this week’s line-up. They’ll suck you in for some deep contemplation and spit you back out as yourself, but ever-so-slightly more. Just remember: once you open your eyes, they’re open for good.

A Review of Tragic Business, by Emil Ostrovski at Lightspeed Magazine

Shortly after this exchange, the hummingbird was eaten by an eagle, who attacked, not out of any genuine sense of hunger, but rather, out of habit, as eagles are wont to do, because eagles are assholes with wings.

Evan isn’t searching for Nirvana, but enlightenment sure is trying to find him. In fact, it keeps inviting him over for tea and crumpets and he keeps asking for just one more chance to connect with his soul mate. A few hundred lifetimes, some Starbucks and a space flight later, he’s found his ADM-10891 and a way out of the cycle of life, death and rebirth. Read more »

A Review of Biblia Longcrofta, by Simon Marshall-Jones

book review by Paul St. John Mackintoshreview by Paul St. John Mackintosh

A Stranger in a Strange Town

Simon Marshall-Jones is the editor/publisher at notable independent UK publishing house Spectral Press, and also, on the strength of this, his first story collection, a pretty fine weird fiction writer. Biblia Longcrofta is a sequence of separate but connected tales, almost all set in, and concerning, the fabulous (yet strangely mundane) city of Longcroft, whose four Quarters have the names – and climates – of the four seasons, and whose suburban houses transform into ziggurats. The narrator and main protagonist Simeon arrives by train, for reasons that only become clear much later, and soon settles into an ordinary apartment and an ordinary library job – in a realm where the extraordinary is only a block away.

Longcroft, it transpires, exists in its own time-stream, connected to but separate from the flow of (relative) normality in other universes, which regularly spill their weirder contents into it. “All time, and all knowledge, from every point in the universe, was contained here,” as Simeon explains. With Chaos magicians harassing pedestrians, and the Holy Grail awaiting pickup by one of the enigmatic Black Ships in a dockside warehouse, things are unlikely to remain tranquil for long. Nor do they. Read more »

A Review of Skein and Bone, by V.H. Leslie

novel review of Skein and Bone by V.H. Leslie

by Paul St. John Mackintosh

Exquisitely disturbing tales

V.H. Leslie is an artist and printmaker, as well as a very fine writer, and a member of England’s Omega Printmakers in Portsmouth. The fourteen dark and weird stories in this first collection are as finely crafted as you’d expect from her background, and as mysteriously suggestive as any cryptic design. Her work has been compared to Shirley Jackson or M.R. James, but is completely modern in its fantastic, surreal flavor. The beautiful production by Undertow Publications includes some of her drawings as illustrations, but it’s the tales themselves where the real imaginative riches reside. Y.B. Yeats once wrote that “a poem comes right with a click like a closing box”: these stories come right like a beautifully worked Borgia box with a poisoned needle. Read more »

Cabinet of Wonders: Bayou Werewolves, Alien Frogs & Dorian Gray

Cabinet of Wonders, web fiction reviews, See the Elephant Magazineweb fiction reviews by Lauren Colie

Let the familiar tickle your fancy. Deals with the devil, alien beings, Facebook, Twitter and even Dorian Gray make an appearance in this Cabinet. Reimagine and reinvigorate these classic tropes with a contemporary twist. Mind your feet — there’s some…things…it’d be best not to step on.

 

The Fiddler of Bayou Teche, by Delia Sherman at Lightspeed Magazine

“You maybe don’t know, little swamp owl girl, these hands are like gold. I fiddle the devil out of hell once and I fiddle him down again. I will make those cuyons in New Orleans lie down and lick my bare feets.”

He glances at me for a reaction, but I just sit there. Tante Eulalie is right. Close to, ’Dres Petitpas is not funny at all. He want what he want, and he don’t care what he has to do to get it. He can’t trick me, because I know what he is. What he go do, I wonder, when he finds that out? Read more »

Another Country Doctor, fiction by Andrew S. Fuller

*

His shoulders sprouted stalks that bloomed azure honeycomb shapes whose openings sang like river reeds. The blond color of his hair replaced itself with a mosslike green, whose strands often swayed as though in a passing current.

Another Country Doctor illustration, See the Elephant Magazine

“Another Country Doctor” Illustration © Will Sullivan

THE LARGEST RESIDENCE in Flatwater was undoubtedly the Sherborne house, an embellished two-storey homestead in the Queen Anne style with wraparound porches and an impressive stable, nestled against an overlooking bluff that enjoyed a fresh creek and a distant view of Chimney Rock. They were the only family with a cook and servant, Benjamin Sherborne’s ferrying and trading fortune having built the five-building town up from an abandoned Pony Express post a full two years before moving his young bride out from Omaha to join him in the sandhills territory.

One rainless night in October, a bright vein ripped the sky and pummeled the bluff with a vivid flare. The earth trembled briefly, but the only damage reported was the unmoored saloon chandelier nearly crushing Miss Melanie, and a bottle of tonic tumbling from the general store’s shelf. The sheriff went up the hill and was amazed to find the stately house still standing. Mr. Sherborne reported the thunder nearby and they guessed and noted its location, though dismissed it for lack of fire or calamity.

Soon after, Borne Creek ran gray and thick for a few days with a fusty miasma. The dog Hercules was seen barking and scratching incessantly at the big cottonwood in the front yard and they found crawdads climbing the trunk and branches until they fell back to their demise. Later, crows made a ruckus on the roof and they ascended a ladder to find dozens of five-eyed trout squirming on the wood shingle. While Benjamin told only the doctor about his burning urination, his wife Nora insisted that the drinking water still tasted wildly weird.

They organized a party and searched the bluff. By mid-day they found the charred crater in the upper reaches of the creek, but regarding what lay within, everyone had a different story. Read more »

Countdown to Bad Angels Release!

Bad Angels, cover art, Dennis Danvers, Metaphysical Circus PressThe Angels Descend,  Oct 15…

Shannon’s a fallen angel. Hunted. Hiding. Her crime? She’d rather live on earth with humans—and exercise free will—than blindly serve a god she’s never met.

On the streets, Shannon keeps her wings tucked inside a hollowed out backpack and taps the will of young men. Nothing harmful. Just enough to get what she needs—until she meets George, an angel-obsessed artist, in Richmond, Virginia.

Peter Arrowsmith is in charge of seeing to the Problem of the fallen, and he’s closing in on Shannon. Trouble is, Peter’s slipping into an entanglement of his own with Bethanie, a beautiful, compulsive liar.

As Shannon flees and Peter pursues, they draw a group of misfits into their deadly battle. But as both angels and humans will learn, love can make a tragedy or a farce of even divinely inspired plans. Read more »