Deep Magic #68, March 2020

Deep Magic #68, Spring 2020

“Before the Journey” by AC Cobble

“Seb Dreams of Reincarnation” by Aimee Ogden (reprint, not reviewed)

“The Space Between” by Larry Hinkle

“Mama Cascade” by Samantha Mills

“Sorieul’s Eyes” by Jeff Wheeler

“Sunshield” by Emile B. Martin (excerpt, not reviewed)

“Sisters of Shadow and Light” by Sara B. Larson (excerpt, not reviewed)

Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf

A mixture of science fiction and fantasy, with a touch of horror, appears in the latest issue of this quarterly publication.

“Before the Journey” by AC Cobble begins in the typical fashion of heroic fantasy, with a group of adventurers arriving at an inn. They include a mage, a rogue, a blademaster, a young noblewoman, and a servant. The party travels to a sanctuary, where the young woman will begin her life as an apprentice in a school of magic. Along the way, they slay a demon that threatens a remote mountain village.

The battle with the demon is vivid and engaging, but the rest of the story lacks sufficient interest for a reader unfamiliar with the author’s other works, to which this story is a prequel. There is much discussion of the politics of an upcoming war, but this is irrelevant to the plot. The climax of the story is the introduction of a new character, which will seem pointless to anyone who has not already encountered him.

“The Space Between” by Larry Hinkle is a brief account of a fellow who accepts a ride from a strange man. It soon becomes clear that the driver is from another reality, leading to a chilling conclusion. This very short piece has the feeling of The Twilight Zone. Like many episodes of that series, it has a simple, predictable plot.

“Mama Cascade” by Samantha Mills takes place among tribespeople dwelling by a river. Outsiders, after the valuable sap of a vine, threaten their land. A young woman asks the goddess of the river for help. She turns into a water creature, and must choose either to aid her people, or to remain in the seductive realm of the river, with no concern for human beings.

The setting is unusual and described in a convincing way. Although the invaders are similar to European explorers invading other parts of the world in search of natural resources, there is much more to this story than just criticism of colonialism. The way in which the protagonist solves her dilemma, without turning her back on either of her two worlds, concludes the plot in a satisfying manner.

“Sorieul’s Eyes” by Jeff Wheeler features a man who becomes a nearly unstoppable assassin, but only after losing his name and memory. After killing a dozen enemies in order to save the life of his master, he meets a healer who remembers him. What little he can recall of their relationship haunts him.

The author creates an intriguing character, and the story has an effectively dark and brooding mood. Unfortunately, the ending comes very suddenly, and is confusing.

Victoria Silverwolf likes the cover of this issue.