Usually identifying a genre doesn’t take much work. Skim a bit and it’s clear whether or not it goes in the Cabinet. But, today, we’ve got a set of tricksters on our hands. I promise there are fairies, tiny monsters and a chupacabra or two in here somewhere…but it’s going to take you a minute to find them. There’s joy in these classic tropes, and delight in their reimagining. This week’s picks offer brand-new oldies-but-goodies.
A Review of Ana’s Tag, by William Alexander at Lightspeed Magazine
The furry, pointy-eared bag wasn’t moving. She pulled on the edges of the zipper and peeked inside. Her expedition supplies were still there. She poked through them with the capped tip of a Magic Marker, just in case there was also something else in there. The notebook lay open to the seventh graffiti-covered page. She tried to nudge it aside, but the tip of the marker went through the colored surface. She dropped the pen. It passed through the graffiti and vanished. The page rippled like a pond.
Rico’s up to something…but Ana can’t quite figure him out. It has to do with the unreadable graffiti tag at school, his bizarre friend, Garth, and his band. With her magic markers and misbehaving backpack in tow, she sets out in search of his late-night shenanigans. She needs to keep her wits as she plunges into the world of the night, for here be dragons (well, other mythical things).
I love a good, unexpected fairy story. This one snuck right up on me and reimagined the Fae through Ana’s eyes. It’s a refreshing yet familiar journey which William Alexander illustrates richly. Get your fantasy (but not-quite-unreal) fix here.
Read it HERE
A Review of Under Cover of Night, by Christopher Golden at Nightmare Magazine
Something moved out there in the desert, a black silhouette that crouched like an animal, running from one body to the next. Weston stared at that strange, slender figure as it bent over a corpse. It moved its head in curious dips and sways like an animal, but walked on two feet. In that crouched position, it lifted a dead man from the ground with ease, as though the body weighed nothing. In the moonlight, Weston saw its head rear back and a long, thin tongue dart out. The sound that carried to him across that killing ground was the dry crack of bone, followed by a terrible, wet slap.
Carl Weston is bored. After the thrill of soldiering in Iraq, backing up the Border Patrol back in the states doesn’t cut it. Stuck in a ditch with an annoying new guy, he’s got to take care of some drug runners and is not happy about this cut-and-dry operation. It’s all textbook…until the screams.
I almost passed this little gem by. Christopher Golden had me fooled for so long, thinking this really was just a soldier’s tale, that I almost gave up…but I’m so glad I didn’t. I won’t ruin it for you, but the surprise inside does a little more than go bump in the night. Check this one out for your spooky fix.
Read it HERE
A Review of Little Men with Knives, by L.S. Johnson at Crossed Genres
It was only after Michael left that they first appeared. I thought it was possums, making that much noise. When I saw them rooting through my garbage I opened my mouth to scream, only to close it again. I wasn’t afraid; in a way I had been expecting them. I was a middle-aged woman living hand to mouth in a shitty town, with no friends or relatives, sagging and fattening and graying with every passing day. There was nothing to be afraid of; I was just going mad. Crazy old woman. It was the order of things.
She’s not sure if the dwarves or real, but the clean house and dead dog sure seem to be. What’s a few Spaghetti-O’s in exchange for their service? This cafeteria worker might be cracking up, and is definitely getting out of this bizarre little town. That pearl necklace will certainly help…
I’m still not sure if she’s crazy. I’m not sure I discount her dwarves. L. S. Johnson has me half-believing and half-hoping those little monsters aren’t real…but I’ll never know. Dive into this pick for some devious (and dark) fun, and decide for yourself what’s real.