Apex Magazine #117, February 2019

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Apex #117, February 2019

“The Crafter at the Web’s Heart” by Izzy Wasserstein

“Cold Iron Comfort” by Hayley Stone
“Hole in the World” by Brian Keene (excerpt, not reviewed)
“Necessary and Sufficient Conditions” by Wole Talabi (reprint, not reviewed)

Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf

Both original stories in this issue are fantasy adventures, with female protagonists fighting dangerous opponents.

“The Crafter at the Web’s Heart” by Izzy Wasserstein takes place in a strange, magical world. A city sits on webs that cross an abyss. The rich and powerful live in the center, and the poor and weak survive on the outskirts. The use of magic transforms those who wield it. A practitioner of book spells has paper for hair. A woman who cares for an enchanted garden grows vines on her body. The narrator accepts an assignment to deliver a magical tome, only to discover a conspiracy to topple the city.

The best thing about this story is the originality of its setting and use of magic. Its main flaw is that the identity of the villain secretly behind the conspiracy is obvious from the start. (The narrator even castigates herself for not realizing this sooner.)

By way of contrast, “Cold Iron Comfort” by Hayley Stone takes place in our own mundane world, although the narrator travels to the land of Faery through a portal. She becomes the lover of a magical being, but soon realizes that she is his slave. With the help of the owner of an automobile junkyard, she defeats the wicked creature.

The contrast between the realistic setting and the fantasy content is appealing. The story can be read as an allegory for an abusive relationship. At times, the protagonist seems foolish for not realizing the threat posed by her lover.

Victoria Silverwolf has an upper respiratory infection.