Beneath Ceaseless Skies #129, September 5th, 2013
Reviewed by Michelle Ristuccia
“On the Weaponization of Flora and Fauna” by Alec Austin & Marissa Lingen takes us on a naturalist expedition gone awry in a far-flung, uncolonized land where maps are as unreliable as the king’s discontented subjects. The high-brow tone carries the story well, helping to place the genre somewhere between Victorian and Medieval fantasy, with a distinct original flair interrupted only by an unnecessary tie-in to standard mythology. Although the main adventure is satisfactorily concluded, the dénouement includes future machinations that some readers may find overly subtle.
“The Goblin King’s Concubine” by Raphael Ordoñez takes us into the heart of Darkspore, an ominous landscape of flightless roaches and giant tarantulas, wherein lies disreputable captain Maugreth’s bounty: a beautiful human princess captured by the Goblin King. This dark fantasy definitely brings horror to the table with its frog-like goblins who easily deal out agonizing death to nearly every character. Even the antihero protagonist, Maugreth, shows the reader the dark side of humanity – in the forms of rank prejudice and unbound selfishness – in this tightly woven nightmare of a tale.
Michelle Ristuccia enjoys slowing down time in the middle of the night to read and review speculative fiction, because sleeping offspring are the best inspiration and motivation. You can find out more about her other writing projects and geeky obsessions by visiting her blog.