Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Willett, Master of the World (2019)

Edward Willett, Master of the World (Worldshapers book 2). Daw Books, 2019. Pp. 384. ISBN 978-0-75641-364-4. $16.00.

Reviewed by Lisa Timpf

Prolific author Edward Willett, who has authored or co-authored more than 60 books, has released the newest entry in his Worldshapers series, Master of the World. Like Worldshaper, the first book in the series, Master of the World was published by Daw Books. Billed as portal fantasies, the Worldshaper books whisk us off to a universe in which Shapers, who were trained by an alien known as Ygrair, can form and populate worlds within a massive construct known as the Labyrinth. Protagonist Shawna Keys, to whom we were introduced in Worldshaper, continues her quest to collect the hokhmah, or knowledge of how each world was Shaped, from as many of the Shapers as possible. Only in this way can the Labyrinth and all of its millions of inhabitants be spared from the Adversary, an alien antagonist who is diametrically opposed to Ygrair and all she represents.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Allegory issue 35/62 (2019)

Allegory, ed. Ty Drago. Vol. 35/62 (Spring/summer 2019). Online at

Reviewed by M.L. Clark

In 1972, Charles E. Fritch published a short story, “If at First You Don’t Succeed, to Hell with It!”, that spoofed the inundation of SF&F submissions queues with “deal with the devil” manuscripts. As the fictional editor in this story writes in a rejection, “I don’t intend on running another pact-with-the-devil story for at least ninety-nine years.” Such was the exhaustion, even forty years ago, with certain tropes in the genre.

Allegory’s Spring/Summer 2019 iteration, Volume 35/62, covers quite a bit of familiar ground. Two stories in the Fiction section involve the Devil, another stars Death, two more have female sex objects (one literal, one a more enigmatic fantasy-realm character who lures a man to his doom), and five other tales use seasoned premises: an old man who sacrifices himself that a young boy might live; a man who goes mad in his bereavement; a woman gradually discovering she’s married an abuser; a child who doesn’t heed her family’s warnings and pays the price; and a rodeo rider with a rival to show up. Only one of the pieces, the story of a guilt-ridden youth who learns the value of life after running into a necromancer, offers a different take on well-travelled themes.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Vanderhooft, Ebenezer (2013)

JoSelle Vanderhooft, Ebenezer. Zumaya Boundless, 2013. Pp. 268. ISBN 978-1-61271-068-6. $15.99.

Reviewed by Cait Coker

For a while there it felt like the blazing summer was never going to end, and I was craving something suitable for colder temperatures—ideally something cozy to read so that I could at least pretend it was cool out, or that I wanted hot chocolate. JoSelle Vanderhooft’s Ebenezer suited that mood very well; as you might imagine from the title, it’s a retelling of Charles Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol, revised for a very modern sensibility.