Dale Highland thought life was complicated when she ran from town to town and struggled with inexplicable murderous blackouts. Discovering the truth about her heritage as the half-demon daughter of the powerful Amara forced her into a complex world of angels and demons, all of whom want to find Dale. In the opening chapters of Beth Woodward’s second installment of Dale’s story, Embracing the Demon, the young woman clings to what she knows best: uninspired jobs that allow her to fade into the woodwork and run when the past catches up with her. Escaping the supernatural world is no easy task, though, and a deadly disease and powerful human threat draw Dale back to confront her prejudices and internal conflicts.
Having read Horror Library Volume 6 recently, Eric J. Guignard proved himself a talented editor and publisher. Now, with this collection of short stories in That Which Grows Wild: 16 Tales of Dark Fiction, this reviewer can confirm that he is also an incredible writer and storyteller.
Right off: this is an official Rush publication, in case you were wondering. Basically, instead of trying to find a guy in a white-and-red-stripped sweater, you are looking for Rush band members – Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart – in 14 different Rush worlds. Each world represents a Rush album and the three band members in their coordinating time period fashion and appearance.
At the end of The Marriage of Gryphons, Penny agreed to marry her human suitor, police officer Peter, but it may not be as simple as a few words of agreement. James continues to suffer the consequences from his daring ploy to win the gryphon hunt, and Penny receives an offer to return back to her post in Lloegyr despite her disapproval of child labor. Raven’s reappearance complicates the situation further, highlighting the stark differences between the two males’ love styles; however, the biggest change is the birth of Morey and Taryn’s first clutch, five boisterous baby gryphons with personalities and carnivorous needs, infusing youthful energy into Penny’s (mostly) calm life.
For years, Star Wars fans have imagined what happened off-screen that led to the formation of the Rebel Alliance. What was the reaction (outside the Death Star conference room) to the Emperor’s dissolution of the Galactic Senate? How did the average citizen of the galaxy react to the atrocities committed by the Empire? What kind of internal debates and conflicts occurred as the Rebel Alliance struggled to find its footing and survive the Imperial attempts to snuff out the flickering flame of freedom? While it’s always been fun (and part of fandom) to speculate and create our own head canon of these events, the acquirement of LucasFilm by Disney has led to stories like the Rogue One feature film and the animated series, Star Wars Rebels, which were clearly crafted with a desire in mind to fill in these gaps and illustrate the rough and precarious path for this band of freedom fighters.
Adam Korenman’s second installment in his sci-fi series, The Gray Wars, picks up almost immediately after the events from book one, When the Stars Fade. Everything humanity knows is in flux, with a rebellion on Earth threatening the current system of government, a sudden introduction to non-human life forms from the cosmos, and an interstellar war sweeping humanoids up in its tide. Alliances break and form in a heartbeat in the current world, and it’s becoming more difficult to tell who is an ally and who is a foe. Korenman’s people face challenges with spunk, vigor, and a zest to endure, but how long can it last when they’re outgunned, outmanned, and facing total annihilation?
"Tristan pulled Cade up, ending their break. 'Let’s go, little brother,' he said. 'We’re almost there.' Cade looked at his brother and felt the need to say something. Something important. Soon, things would never be the same for them again. Tristan was about to be vaulted into a new life, and Cade would continue to be just Cade. It was as if Cade were standing on a hand platform, watching his brother board a ship that would take him somewhere he could never go. The idea filled Cade with a sense of loss, to mourning. But before Tristan departed, Cade wanted to somehow capture this moment and hold it so he could think back, fondly, on the last time there were a pair. Just like they had always been.” -Chapter 2
Penny thought her involvement with Daer/Lloegyr couldn’t get any more bizarre after she solved a series of murders caused by the world’s most revered species, unicorns; however, Taryn’s marriage proposal to her associate, Morey, exposes her to species rituals beyond anything she experienced on Earth. Before the wedding, though, Penny is called to help save Raven, her dragon beloved who failed her at the climax of The Cult of Unicorns. Can she find forgiveness for his betrayal and recreate their bond without hurting the human man who brings warmth and stability back into her life?
“But when this darkness is faced, even metaphorically, I believe that a certain sense of liberation occurs which is healthy for people—it is the liberation of integration, the relief that comes when we realize that no more dirty, closeted secrets remain.” -Steve Rasnic Tem, "The Subject Matter of Horror,” Exploring Short Dark Fiction #1: A Primer to Steve Rasnic Tem