I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I think most of these stories were hampered by the fact that they were just that — short stories. I’m confident that at least 90% of them would have been so much better had they had more length. So while I feel more or less bleh about this collection, I’d definitely look out for more works by the various authors.
Because it’s fantasy and sci-fi, world-building is usually necessary, and often this resulted in a lot of info-dumping that had my eyes going skew and tech talk that went right over my head. I’m not saying it wasn’t necessary or done bad, but it did feel clumsy and rushed and detracted from the story itself. I don’t know if there was a word limit to these stories, but I would have appreciated more time with each.
Moonlight One by Stephen Lawson – When Gwen’s husband is found murdered, she’s the only suspect. After all, they were the only two people on the moon: Decent sci-fi murder mystery begging for it’s own full length novel. Writer has an engaging writing style that let me gloss over any holes in the story. ★★★★
The Armor Embrace by Doug C. Souza – Flora’s father is a mech-soldier of the Slayer Class, but how much of him is really left inside the machine?: It had a very interesting concept, and probably would have worked better as a longer length novel. Leaves you with a lot of questions. ★★
Envoy in the Ice by Dustin Steinacker – When an alien with godly intelligence is discovered watching the earth, one man must try to learn if its motives are pure: The blurb is kind of misleading, but not completely off. A lot of unanswered questions that could be explored in a longer novel. ★★★
The Devil’s Rescue by L. Ron Hubbard – If you were stranded in an open boat and the only hope for rescue came from a ghost ship, would you dare to ride?: Bleh… the language was a bit pretentious, and the story was kinda boring. ★★
Tears for Shulna by Andrew L. Roberts – Some gifts come with heavy price tags, and the giver must rise to the occasion.: I need more of this! More Selkies! This story was too short though. ★★★★
The Drake Equation by C.L. Kagmi – What if an alien asks for your help with a question, and the answer affects the future of the whole human race?: Hmmm… I literally can’t remember this story… Ok I went back and checked and yeah, this one was pretty good! ★★★★
Acquisition by Jake Marley – Barlow has a talent for finding the dead. Or do they find him?: Pretty good, would also make a good series. ★★★★
Obsidian Spire by Molly Elizabeth Atkins – When Varga sets out to explore the ancient stronghold of a long dead wizard, she discovers that the ruins aren’t as deserted as she thought.: Loved this one! Would love more by this author and even this story… maybe a prequel! ★★★★★
Gator by Robert J. Sawyer – If only that reptile in the sewer were something as predictable as an alligator.: Uhm… no… maybe it was because of the length limit, but this just fell completely flat and was insensible. ★
A Glowing Heart by Anton Rose – On a distant world among the cloud peaks, the light-hawks promise a rich reward for those daring enough to harvest one.: Not much to say about this one, but it was very good. ★★★★
The Long Dizzy Down by Ziporah Hildebrandt – In a world where memories can be stripped, Bill discovers that he has a family he has never known.: Didn’t even read this one. Couldn’t stomach the writing ★
The Woodcutters’ Deity by Walter Dinjos – Not all spirits have the best of intentions, and they must be dealt with.: This was also very good. Definitely would want more about the mythology here. ★★★★★
The Dragon Killer’s Daughter by Todd McCaffrey – You can put an end to something wondrous, but only at a cost.: Meh… didn’t really make any sense ★★
Useless Magic by Andrew Peery – In a life-or-death situation, sometimes you wish that you had a really powerful spell. But that begs the question – What is power?: A decent enough short story ★★★
Adramelech by Sean Hazlett – Some devils are as old as a dream, and more evil than men can imagine.: Didn’t really feel this one either. Maybe if the author had more time it could have been better ★★★
The Fox, the Wolf, and the Dove by Ville Merilainen – When the world needs saving, three children are called to the task.: Probably my favorite of them all… coincidentally also the longest! ★★★★★
The Magnificent Bhajan by David Von Allmen – Can an aging sorcerer find a way to track down his old nemesis with the small bit of magic he has left, or is he just fooling himself?: Another bleh ★★★