New Realm Vol. 04 No. 08 – Various Authors

New Realm is one of several monthly magazines published by FictionMagazines.com, usually featuring five short fantasy stories from five different authors.

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Story #1 – The One by R. S. Leergaard

For fairly obvious reasons, at least to me, I won’t be reviewing/critiquing the first story because it is mine. I will say that the story called “The One’ was written in June of 2013 for a monthly challenge at a fantasy writers’ site. The challenge was as follows:

Your challenge is to write a story based on a cliché that’s in some way reversed. For instance, the the heroine rescuing a beautiful prince from an enchanted tower. It doesn’t have to be a gender issue, though, just a cliché turned on its head.

That’s what I did with ‘The One.’. More accurately, I took several fantasy clichés and exaggerated them to the point of cartoonish silliness, and maybe turned one or two of them a little sideways.

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Story #2 – Wurm by Jill Hand

Wurm is an ancient dragon who has survived to modern times and is being less than capably – and honestly – represented by his current servant, Dennis Twombey. And then the lawyers get involved and things go from bad to worse as Dennis has to juggle several problems – including his daughter, her mother and a RenFair owner (Sir Richard Blott) – at once while keeping Wurm happy.

A lot of little but interconnected things happen that lead up to a final confrontation between Wurm the dragon and Sir Blott. Although it’s not your typical happy ending, the story does end happily as Dennis learns a valuable lesson about honesty and fairness … and that, as far as I’m concerned, is a good thing.

Far too many stories, movies and tv shows these days seem to think that a story isn’t any good unless it contains blood, guts and “gritty realism” and that gets to be a little draining at times—at least to me. I can see that sort of thing any time by simply turning on the cable news channels or almost any drama series.

It’s kind of nice to read a feel-good story with a happy ending once in a while. 🙂

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Story #3 – A Trail of Breadcrumbs by Alice Loweecey

An interesting little tale that takes a bit of a turn when the bounty hunter, Jade, discovers the criminals she’s hunting are her own brothers. Also complicating matters is the constant danger of Alternate World collisions and changes those events sometimes cause. In the middle of the hunt for the rest of her brothers – she’s already captured one – another Alt-World collision occurs, sending Jade back in time five years where she learns of a different history where her brothers aren’t the criminals she believed them to be. Or maybe it’s not that simple.

This tale has several twists and turns in it, and it leaves everyone – including the reader – wondering which reality is actually real.

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Story #4 – Godswap Apocalypse by Terry Ibele

Who knew there was so much red tape involved in the transferring of God’s power? Certainly George didn’t. And what good is it when the only thing one has figured out how to do is end the world? These and others are questions George had never received an answer to until his latest universe scenario landed him in an office building where such things are decided.

This story is an often amusing account of how even the universe and the transfer of power from God to God is governed by certain bureaucratic rules and regulations.

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Story #5 – The Shadow Ward by Brian Barr

One of the nine necromancer flutes, the flute of Saturn and Mercury, has been stolen and the Shadow Ward, Ludwig has been sent to retrieve it. His search takes him from stable hand to pirate to the former slave and current possessor of the Babylonian flute, Mawuli, aka Sarah. She and her common-law husband, Patrick Goodfellow, almost destroy Ludwig before re-enforcements arrive to save him and return the flute.

There’s a lot of back story and other details told, of course, but in the end, the twist here is that the bad guy wins, though one is left to wonder if there is such a thing as a ‘good’ necromancer.

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The common theme for all five stories, as far as I can see that there is one, is that all of them have some sort of plot and/or character twist that turns the story away from the usual and expected conclusions. All-in-all this could be a fun and interesting addition to anyone’s collection of anthologies.

RSL

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Mr. 8

Mr. 8

Mr. 8 – David J. Thirteen

Mr. 8, the initial offering by author David J. Thirteen, is a mystery, couched in a horror, wrapped in a paranormal thriller.

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When Professor Denton Reed is drawn into a police investigation by friend, neighbor and detective, Bill Stahl, he had no idea what kind of wild ride he would be taking. After all, what would a psychology professor whose claim to fame was his doctoral thesis Object Transference and Diagnostic Observations know about murder, even if said thesis was later, and more famously republished under the title What Your Stuff says about You?

Quite a lot, it turns out, when there are multiple victims and the only thing they all have in common is that they began drawing or otherwise creating 8s all over their homes and apartments shortly before they were murdered. Things rapidly deteriorate for Professor Reed, though, when he becomes as obsessed with the investigation as the victims were with the number eight.

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As much as the story’s plot entertains, and it does, it’s the character development that stands out. The author [Thirteen] delves quite deeply into the professor’s motivations behind his chosen field and his own reflections on why the case becomes such an obsession for him. There are also numerous and touching scenes between Professor Reed and his wife, Linda. And the story is filled with mundane details that stand out all the more for being in the midst of such horrible events.

The details stand out elsewhere in the story as well . . . in the plot line, in the descriptions of the small town college where Professor Reed teaches, and in the secondary characters peppered throughout the tale.

While this review is for the beta version I had the privilege of reading at Wattpad, I have no doubt the more polished and extended version will be just as compelling, and I look forward to adding it to my collection. 4 out of 5 stars, did I have them to give. 😀

The full version is available here.

RSL