The Wardrobe, fiction by Matthew Sanborn Smith


“They pushed past the eighth layer of clothing. This was as deep as he’d dared go his first night in the house, once he’d realized what he had here.”

A TIPSY MARIE Antoinette leaned into Albert’s back until she was uprighted by an Abraham Lincoln on rollerblades. At the king of all housewarming parties, Albert stood in front of the wardrobe, dressed as another king in a late-era Elvis jumpsuit. He held the end of a string in his hand. It was unknotted and unfrayed, no evidence it had ever been attached to a person.

Someone had gone into the wardrobe and hadn’t come out.

Albert had seen movement just beyond the coats as he’d pulled the string—taut only seconds ago—from the darkness. The stirring of suit shoulders and sleeves as a body pushed through, about to emerge. Then the end slipped from the garments to spring at him like a water snake. Nothing remained but creaking hangers swinging old clothing.

This was a bad idea. Jesus, this was such a bad idea. Albert stepped back to keep from falling over. A corn chip crunched beneath his shoe.

He’d watched everyone who went in to explore, everyone who came out with a costume, keeping mental track while he explained to others what a deal he’d gotten on the place and yes, what an amazing thing he’d received with it. No, he hadn’t read the book, but he’d seen the movie. No, no trees or satyrs. Read more »

A Review of Nutshell, by Ian McEwan

Review by J. S. Loveard

“Now I live inside a story and fret about its outcome.”

So says the often arch narrator of Ian McEwan’s latest novel NutshellThe story? Shakespeare’s HamletIn twenty first century London, the narrator discovers that his mother, Trudy, and his uncle, Claude, are not only lovers, but are plotting to murder his father, the poet and publisher John Cairncross.

Of course, in Shakespeare’s original, Prince Hamlet only begins to suspect his uncle’s involvement in ‘murder most foul’ after the deed is done. But this is not the only premature element in McEwan’s retelling. In Nutshell, the narrator is a nine-month-old foetus speaking to us from his mother’s womb, eloquent beyond his years through what he gleans from podcasts, television and BBC radio.  Read more »

A Review of The Emerald Circus, by Jane Yolen


Review by William Grabowski

[A] very large yellow butterfly with black spots like microchips on its wings; flying toward her: It had a scrunched-up, old man’s brown face, with wrinkles, sort of pruney, she thought.


Jane Yolen has been referred to as “the Hans Christian Anderson of children’s literature,” a claim I’m not qualified to dispute. But her unerring ability to transform even the most mundane events, objects, and people into mythic gold is too well-known for doubt, earning—among others—awards such as the Nebula, World Fantasy, Rhysling, and Caldecott Medal. Yolen was the second woman to attain the position of president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Read more »