The brilliant and the bland run side-by-side in the Allens' second collection of strange tales. Vivid prose and creepy concepts appear in Jessy Randall's "Maybe a Witch Lives There," in which two teenage pranksters get more than they bargained for when trying to fool an old woman. The best story, Jamie Killen's "Keeper of the Wave," builds to a sadistic climax that's simply amazing, as a mysterious secret-eater feeds on a family's pain. But other stories lack bite Adam Howe's solid but unoriginal " ‘Kid' Cooper & the Blackwood Ape-Man" fails to do anything new with its concept. Two standout poems—Geoffrey A. Landis's "Orpheus," featuring the mythic figure reflecting on his failure, and Natalia Theodoridou's "Philomela in Seven Movements," in which a woman transforms herself in beautiful metaphor—are a pleasant change from several others that are barely speculative. The Allens (Clockwork Phoenix) don't manage to bring this volume up to the quality of its predecessor. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 12/14/2015 Release date: 12/01/2015 Genre: Fiction
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