cover image No Lesser Angels, No Greater Devils

No Lesser Angels, No Greater Devils

Laura J. Campbell. Dark Owl, $11.99 trade paper (280p) ISBN 978-1-951716-19-6

Campbell (Five Houses) gathers 28 speculative shorts for this eerie and introspective collection. Campbell’s characters and settings are vastly varied: a runner struggles with the most difficult marathon of his life in the standout “The Horrible Mile”; a Viking explorer becomes the victim of Mayan vengeance in “Tikal.” In “Candy Lace,” a young girl greets people who are close to death as they drive along a country road. The bite size “Old Graveyard Magic” sees Bubba, the younger brother of Death, expounding on his newest venture as a craft brewer. At its best, Campbell’s writing is poignant and riveting—as in the darkly lovely “Marie’s House,” about a woman who remembers her past lives—but the effect is dampened somewhat by the story notes that preface each tale and set up the story’s inspiration and contents. Unfortunately, these preludes serve to pull the reader out of the collection’s dreamlike mood, making the whole feel disjointed. Still, seasoned speculative fiction readers will enjoy Campbell’s atmospheric musings on death, divine retribution, and the afterlife. [em](May) [/em]