Arcane II

Rated 4.50/5 based on 2 reviews
Twenty-one weird and unsettling stories. More
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Reviews of Arcane II by Nathan Shumate

Rodrigo Ottero reviewed on May 2, 2013

This anthology editor, Nathan Shumate, kindly gave me this book in exchange for a unbiased review as soon as possible. As it is an anthology, I will review each story separately.

I. "FIRE AND FLESH" by Michael R. Fletcher: the author very slowly shows us the world in which the plot is set, and at first is a little rough because of some neologisms, like pyrocasts, sociocasts and the unique way the author use delusions. I will not speak further to avoid spoiling, but in the end, it is a very good and touching story, with a poetic flavor, somewhat inspired in the Inca’s conquest by Pizarro. BTW, I had a really hard time trying to understand the word ‘Cotardist’, until I related it to ‘Cotard delusion’. Rating: 4.0 of 5

II. “WITH YOU” by Ian Welke: a scary and well-written story, that any cult fanatic would be like to be true! I am having difficulties trying to tell about the plot without spoiling it, but the author shows us a moment in which a lunatic could be not so lunatic... Rating: 4.5 of 5

III. “TREE HUGGER” by Gef Fox: the adventure of a young man to impress a girl. It started very well, but it soon turned out to a straight story, with no surprises. If it was a movie, it would be one of the typical horror movies of the 80’s. Still, a good and easy read. Rating: 3.5 of 5

IV. “CONVENTION OF EKPHRASIS” by Libby Cudmore and Matthew Quinn Martin: a very psychedelic tale! A man suddenly finds himself sleeping in a hotel lobby, without remembering how he got there - and things went strange very soon! A good story, albeit I could not connect to it to really enjoy it - most of the time, I felt I was just a unconcerned witness, instead of an avid reader. It is very well written and I think I did not appreciate it so much due to personal tastes. Rating: 3.5 of 5

V. “90-DAY LIMIT” by Philip M. Roberts: suddenly, a landlord find something otherworldly in an apartment under his responsibility. Of the several thing he could do, he resolves to act as a modern P. T. Barnum. Obviously, things could not end very happily for him... Well written, direct to the point, and creepy. Rating: 4.0 of 5

VI. “HURRICANE DRUNK” by Harry Markov: I loved this story, but I cannot tell more about them without spoiling the plot. Superb writing, very poetic and stylish storytelling, a captivating tale about innocence and evil. This was one of the best stories I ever read, but I have a problem with 72 of the 6000 words, unfortunately the last ones: the ending was, in my humble opinion, below the exceptional level of the story. Rating: 5 of 5

VII. “LAKESHORE DRIVE” by Joanna Parypinski: this tale does not impact me. It is well written, has a good plot, some good descriptions involving snow, but I felt that the story lacks punch. Rating: 3 of 5

VIII. “ORPHEUS AND EURYDICE” by Miranda Ciccone: this is a story that did not touch me and I did not care for the characters. Despite being the weirdest so far, I found it confusing and shallow. Perhaps others will like it more than me. Rating: 2 of 5

IX. “FATE’S MASK” by Steve Toase: another disappointing story for me. It is more like a childish story (with a moral message) than an adult one. Rating: 2 of 5

X. “PALACE OF RATS” by Anna Sykora: it started very well, a historically based story in the XIV century, but suddenly the plot loses a little of coherence (beginning with an illogical murder) and some questionable actions of some characters, very specially at the end. All in all, it was an entertaining tale, historically flavored, with some flaws. Rating: 3 of 5

XI. “THE PIANIST’S WIFE” by Nicole M. Taylor: this tale builds the suspense slowly, but it is very good and very interesting. A newly married woman discovers some eccentricities of her husband, while exploring her new home (her husband’s house), uncovering some disturbing secrets. Rating: 5 of 5

XII. “NIGHTCRAWLERS” by Jean Graham: a very creative story, about a woman, a deal and three “nightcrawlers”. Unfortunately, it ends all too soon, I would like to read an entire book about them :-) Rating: 5 of 5

XIII. “IN THE PAINT” by Michael Haynes: this very short tale is also the most creepy, probably because it is told in the point of view of a 6-year old boy, who happens to have a problem in his toy room. Ok, some can say that the plot in itself is a common one, but I think this is the typical case of “known plot, innovative telling”. I liked it very much! Rating: 5 of 5

XIV. “BENEATH THE SURFACE” by Milo James Fowler: a sci-fi post-apocalyptic survival story, well written and having good suspense. Rating: 4 of 5

XV. “THE BEATIFICATION OF THOMAS SMALL, OR HOW TO MAKE A SAINT” by Priya Sharma: a very good story about religion and the craziness done in its name, amid the temptations “holy” men suffers. However, I felt that the end was a little too ‘happily ever after’ to my liking. Rating: 4 of 5

XVI. “WHAT IT MEANS TO LOVE” by Andrew Bourelle: a thriller set in an altered Earth, a post-apocalyptic survival story in which a couple must deal with the hazards of a new reality and specially her condition. Rating: 3.5 of 5

XVII. “HIS CITY” by Craig Pay: I didn’t like this weird story very much. I have the impression that the author wrote and wrote and achieved no objective, despite a good concept: a man able to hear the city thoughts. Rating: 2.0 of 5

XVIII. “THE DUBIOUS APOTHEOSIS OF BASKIN GOUGH” by Patrick S. McGinnity: a long and very weird story, with some very good moments lost in its monotone length and a bunch of boring narratives. Rating: 2.5 of 5

XIX. “TRIPTYCH” by Adele Gardner: I cannot rate this story, as I could not finish reading it. Its narrative style does not attract me at all.

XX. “THE HOUSE THAT WEPT PUDDIN’” by Eric Dimbleby: a extremely weird story, as the title implies. Word after word, I kept reading trying to understand what was happening. Rating: 4 of 5

XI. “THE LAST LAUGH” by Brooke Miller: another post-apocalyptic survival story, a sad psychological thriller, starred by two sisters. It is a very good tale, with a very ironic twist in its end. Rating: 4 of 5
(reviewed 39 days after purchase)
Karl G Rich reviewed on April 23, 2013

I didn't know what to expect from this anthology. I have visited the editor's website that is not related to this book and expected much of the same. I was and still am very pleased at the quality of the writing and tale telling of the ensemble cast of authors. The self description of weird and unsettling is correct in the same way as Rod Serling's Twilight Zone or Night Gallery are unique and thought provoking. The stories are as eclectic and fun as any anthology I have ever read. Now, I have to go and buy Arcane to figure out how Nathan got here.
(reviewed 35 days after purchase)
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