UNFAMILIAR CHRONICLES: or, the Mis-Education of a Young Demon, Patrick Welch, www.double-dragon-ebooks.com, ISBN: 9781554048199, reviewed by Barry Hunter.
Patrick Welch has proven that he can be at home writing horror, science fiction or fantasy. This is a fun filled fantasy that makes me think of the Myth stories of Robert Aspirin who was aided and abetted in the last few years by Jody Lynn Nye. It’s always good to find someone who can follow the lead and add some charming new steps to the dance as well.
Babu is a demon in training and is about to be bonded with his new master. When their apprenticeship is completed, they will become fully vested in their professions. The only problem is that when Babu was being bonded, Althane the wizard sneezed in the middle of the spell and Babu was bonded to Kylph, a servant boy.
Althane is unable to undo the bonding and Babu and Kylph are sent out into the world to perfect their magic and serve their apprenticeship with on the job training.
As Kylph and Babu travel the countryside and other continents using simple spells and ingenuity to make a living and become accomplished magician and familiar. During their travels, they use sleight of hand, love potions and truth spells (everyone knows they don’t work) to become well known. They also manage to obtain a grimoire so that Kylph can learn some real magic.
Welch has written a delightful novel that has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing as to whether they will pass their apprenticeship or not. If you aren’t already a fan of Pat Welch’s, pick this one up and you will be by the time you finish.
LIKE A VORPAL BLADE, More Erotic Tales of Wonderland, edited by J Blackmore, www.circlet.com, $5.99 download, 79 pages, reviewed by Barry Hunter.
Here is a new collection from Circlet Press giving us a different view of Wonderland. It contains five visions of Wonderland that show that it is not always found at the end of a rabbit hole, nor by following a March Hare who is worried about the time. You won’t have to worry about the time either, it will be time well spent.
In Theresa Sand’s “If This Be Not Love, It Is Madness”, we find out that the Mad Hatter has a thing for the White Knight; but Mary Ann, his housekeeper shows him the difference between the two.
Bernie Nojzes shows us that Alice can be “A Perfect Creature” as she shares her love with ALL of the inhabitants of Wonderland in EVERY way.
Alice has many of her adventures while asleep, it seems, but in “Waking” she finds out she may be the Queen in a story by ADR Forte.
Alex Picchetti envisions Wonderland as “Midway Rides” complete with the smells and “rides” that are available at an adult oriented Carnival.
The book closes with “The Boiling Sea” by Angela Caperton which is also my favorite story in the collection. In 1969, a young man comes home from Vietnam and goes to California to find his Wonderland of hippies and communes. He gets involved with a group of “actors” who are doing Alice as a play. As he gets drawn into a world of sex and drugs, he manages to discover himself and knows when to go home. In addition to being a tale of Wonderland, it is a parable about many of the Vietnam Veterans who lost their way and how some were able to find their way home. It also shows that there are still some out there looking for the return path.
Jen Blackmore has a deft touch at picking her stories and all of her anthologies are well thought out and extremely enjoyable. Don’t let this one get away.
ELEMENTARY EROTICA, edited by J Blackmore, www.circlet.com, $5.99 download, 133 pages, reviewed by Barry Hunter.
This new anthology from Circlet Press and J Blackmore answers the age old question of what really happened at 221b Baker Street when the Doctor and the Detective weren’t out solving cases.
Aoife Bright opens the volume with “The Prophets Eye” in which the body of the Bishop of Guildford is pulled from the river and some of the darker sides of London are shown. It also shows how passionate Holmes can be while not working on a case.
“The Hysteria Machine” by Louise Blaydon tells of Holmes trying out one of Watson’s new medical machine that was meant to cure hysteria in female patients.
“The Adventure of the Green Zeppelin” by Elinor Gray opens with the death of a passenger in the dining room of the zeppelin and has them joining the Victorian equivalent of the Mile High Club.
Kate Lear’s “Research” helps delve into the relationship between the two. “Emet” by Cornelia Gray brings a golem into their lives. Peter Tupper’s “Songs without Words” explores Holmes relationship with Irene Adler while Watson has a discourse with Mycroft about his brother.
My favorite of the volume is “Upon the Use of Electrical Vibration in the Treatment of Hysterics” by Violet Vernet. Edgar Lillie’s wife suffered from “hysteria, that is the bane of the upper class woman” and he has hired Dr Watson to treat her condition. Watson tries out his Weiss Rejuvenator with much success and recounts his story with Holmes. As usual, Holmes must investigate the new device and goes about making it more like the device it is today.
Again, Jen Blackmore has brought us an unusual, thought provoking anthology. Be sure to check out the website and browse their other offerings. You might be in for a surprise or two.