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Ravensmoot In this debut anthology of speculative fiction short stories Fox Raven Publishing presents a smorgasbord of delectable tales In an eclectic mix of horror fantasy dystopian dreampunk and all too real thrillers ravensmoot exhibits some of the best new writing in the genreWith a cartel of South African Ugandan British and American writers ravensmoot promises to delight readers looking for powerful writing that isn’t afraid to push the boundaries of their respective genres Since I reviewed all the titles included in this anthology individually here're my thoughtsPassing Visions by Martin John StokesPassing Visions is about a psychologist is pulled into the sadness and horror of his patient’s life James is trying to be a normal teenager but and encounter with the school bully has turned his life upside down I won’t reveal just what happened the cover of the eBook is clue enough but I will go into why I thought this was a brilliant captivating read And pretty damned unsettling tooLike every other teenager in high school James is searching – for himself for balance for hints of who he wants to or might when he becomes an adult He struggles with fitting in and conversely with standing outIndie is a psychologist who is trying to balance his career or calling with the stress of an impending divorce He feels that he knows what life is about what and who he is; his entire world is changed when James enters his practiceThese two characters play off each other wonderfully – the majority of the tale is told from James’ point of view so the reader gets to know James uite deeply but even so Indie’s strength as a character shines through; he’s not James’ opposite but a person in his own right not a foil but an explorer who is approaching James and the reason he has come to see Indie from a clinical logical direction James at the beginning of the tale is the person who’s gone through everything and we get snapshots of who he was or the person who is now hiding as he tells his tale With Indie we witness the fall into darkness and madness vicariously listening as James’ story unfolds both imagining Indie’s reaction and living it through our own thoughts and responsesMartin manages to begin the story at an even gradual pace introducing not only the two characters but the room in which the tale occurs – as the tale progresses he takes us to James’ high school home and garden and even though the pace remains even and measured throughout this isn’t an action adventure or a thriller the psychological onslaught begins at first hardly noticeable but gradually becoming powerful And this is before the horror of what is happening really takes hold By the time it does I’m sure the reader – as I was will be held fast unable to stop reading It is as they say too lateMartin also writes with a beautiful and enviable control stringing sentences together in such a way that scenes take shape and characters take life with what seems to be no effort – and there are so many memorable lines in this story Memorable and unsettling bothThis is definitely a story that will remain with me for a long long time It shows that Martin can weave an incredible memorable tale with realistic characters that make the reader wonder and flinch and grimace and shudder – I can’t help thinking that he’ll be giving many readers many many sleepless nightsAn excellent tale – psychologically disturbing emotionally powerful and creepy as hellThe Triarchy's Emissary by Nyki BlatchleyThe story opens with Edralit a mysterious visitor to Faiz – she’s from the Highlands which makes her arrival in Faiz an event that is noticed by manyNovesh is an empress without an empire struggling to marshal what support she can gather for her cause while suffering nightmares regarding the events that saw her Empire collapseFrom the beginning I was curious about Edralit – she’s capable intelligent and wary trying to hide a past that would lead most people to giving her entirely too much attention From her opening conversations with a serving girl right through to the tale’s climax Edralit is compelling and interesting a great counter character to NoveshNovesh plainly struggles with the trappings of her station and birth and her need to ensure the rebirth of her empire brings a constant sad tension her scenes – her strength and resolve come through wonderfully as does her political acumenThe back story of this tale raises some very interesting uestions that I hope Nyki will deal with in a full length novel – the settings the places we as the reader visit and those only mentioned really made me curious and world building was interesting and imaginative with a hint of the magic which exists in this world Nyki has a great eye for scene detail and he handles character interaction well – the action oriented scenes are also thrilling adding the physical element to the tale and also mixing in great tensionAll in all ‘The Triarchy’s Emissary’ is a great snapshot tale beautifully self contained yet evocative of a larger world and Epic Fantasy fans everywhere will enjoy it Perfect for a uick read and when you want to discover new voices in Fantasy without having to read a full length novel Well done and looking forward to The Dead City Blues by Yelena CalaveraThe story centres on Shelby a girl living in the shattered remains of the African metropolis with her younger sister Life is beyond difficult – just leaving the relative safety of their refuge could lead to serious injury or even death Yelena does a great job of describing the ruins of the city – the streets are empty the buildings are desolate and sad and wild animals roam are slowly taking back the concrete and glass spaces Shelby is a great character given to philosophical musings and deep insights but she’s also capable and dangerous – she has learned the hard way what to do to survive and has also had to take the role of guardian for her sisterBut things change when Shelby save a very personal nightmare from another human Luke – what is further revealed about the world in which these remnants of humanity live through as Shelby and Luke’s fate unfold shows Yelena’s skill at building a world with layers of menace and beautyThe nightmare creatures that roam the city are well imagined and memorable and the tale flows easily and liuidly in the imagination; couple this with Yelena’s imaginative creations and you’ve got a tale you’ll read remember and talk about Looking forward to from this talented writerPigs in Golfs by Mia ArderneOn one hand it’s a love story showing us a husband and wife and giving us a snapshot of their lives together They are sensual and driven satisfied and happy and unafraid of their appetites She is hiding something from him something important yet unproven and he indulges in a dangerous hobby dodging not only death but also the LawOn the other hand this is the tale of a despicable killer a murderer of twisted appetites possessed of an even twisted worldview He is so sick that he could very well be an ‘it’ though Mia manages to beautifully straddle the line between monster and madman with a creepy and brilliant balancing act – there are hectic scenes in this tale scenes that will make you flinch and grimace and you may perhaps find yourself wanting to set down your eReader You won’t thoughBecause it’s when these three people collide and the reader can see the collision coming like being stuck in traffic and seeing an accident unfold in dreadful slow motion that the tale is at its most visceral and shocking I was left silent and stunned as the events played out and then got another kick in the stomach for good measure at the tale’s endI’m seriously looking forward to from Mia – she’s the kind of storyteller that is unafraid and the kind of writer that knows how to use words to pull pinch torture sicken and elicit smiles An amazing talentThe Terminal Move by Dilman DilaThe tale follows a tribe during their long search for a new home; they lost a conflict with a rival tribe and had to give up their home which forced them into a long journey taxing not only their bodies but also testing the tribe’s resolve Eventually they find an idyllic place but this is when their troubles really begin setting up not only a conflict that could ultimately destroy the tribe but also drive deep wedges between its peopleThe tale is told in a style that most readers will find strange or at the very least different to what they’ve encountered beforeIt has the flavour of a fable or a story passed down through the generations with practically no alterations made to its rhythms and structure so it isn’t told in a style that readers may consider ‘modern’ but I didn’t have any problems with it In fact if this tale had been written in any other style it would probably have come across as contrived and the tale would have suffered for itAs such the characters’ foundation roles as archetypes rings a bit stronger than anything else I’ve read which made it difficult for me to connect with them on a level needed to create that sense of empathy which all storytellers strive to achieve with their characters This kind of characterization suited the tone and timbre of the tale though so I guess it worked In terms of world building the reader is shown glimpses of the tribe’s culture and beliefs – there’s enough to keep it interesting though a particular type of creature in the tale might strike the reader as being out of place or at the very least something that that Dilman used to try and bridge the gap between the cultures he grew up investigating and those of readers on continents other than Africa‘The Terminal Move’ is definitely the most different tale that Fox and Raven has brought us so far – it is utterly uniue and deserving of the spot it has claimed in Fox and Raven’s first anthology but there is a chance that it may be a little too different to appeal to a wider readership I’ll be reading Dilman’s work further though precisely because it’s so different Project Hydra by Anton Sim‘Project Hydra’ is definitely one of the most original and disturbing tales I’ve read in a long timeIn this tale the reader is introduced to a group of co workers who have to deal with a new and mysterious project initiated by their superiors – the ‘project’ of the title How each individual worker deals with the uestions raised by this new workplace phenomenon and how they react when it is revealed is what this tale is all about – and it’s an awesome play on the term ‘Hydra’Everything works wonderfully and exceedingly creepily in this tale – the characters are well rounded and uniue each with their own mannerisms and character arcs; the prose is flowing and uncluttered; the descriptions short yet vivid The tension and horror of the tale builds steadily as its premise unfolds and I’m sure plenty of readers will be keeping an eye on those office memos just in case ; It’s a memorable and chilling tale and I’m definitely looking forward to from Anton Sim For starters if you're looking for character development don't bother here instead you should berate yourself for not making this discovery sooner The variety of the stories included in Ravensmoot fill enough boundaries and expectations plot context etc to satisfy some of you critics I'm one myselfWith an introduction by Charlie Human author of Apocalypse Now Now the anthology sets off with a skin crawling novelette called Passing Visions written by Martin John Stokes which creates the opening stage for tales you really don't want to miss out on seriously you don't want to miss this If you miss this Pennywise the Clown might gurgle We all float down here tonight in your bathroom sink while you're brushing your teeth Yes Be afraid As I was saying typing actually the first entry sets the stage for what is to come as you progress through a series of original and respectable works of fiction each as original and thought provoking as the last From a classic thriller to a secret order of assassins from demonic nightmares that come to life and prowl in the dark to dream punk and everything else in betweenIf you're itching to read something new and interesting or whether you're in the mood to add a few names to your favourite list of authors then do yourself a favour and give Fox Raven's Ravensmoot a chance even if you just skim through it you're bound to find an experience worth your time