Grimdark Magazine #17 by Adrian Collins

Rating 8.0/10

The Seventeenth issue of Grimdark Magazine (GDM) features a nice selection of authors with stories or various articles. It features short stories from Devin Madson, Amanda J. Spedding and Brian Staveley, two interviews with Sebastian de Castell and Jen Williams, two book reviews about City of Kings by Rob J. Hayes and Chasing Graves by Ben Galley, plus an article from Anna Stephens which makes this magazine a complete and highly enjoyable brief read. Don't be surprised when you find yourself adding a few more books to your to-be-read mountain. Oops.

My review will focus only on the short stories, because, frankly, the other articles talk for themselves. You are either interested or not, but if you already have a copy then you might as well check them out.

A Risk of Malice by Devin Madson

After reading We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson, she has become one of those authors whose work I openly look out for. A Risk of Malice is a great opening for this new issue of Grimdark Magazine, and it happened to save me from a terrible Monday morning atmosphere.

This is one of those stories which has an important lesson for you: think about what you wish for before you voice it, because you might get exactly what was requested and you won't be happy about it. Set in the same world as all of her other works, Madson has a flowing prose and she is able to create a tense atmosphere within this brief narrative, with characters having distinct personalities. No small feat with a short story. The story arc is very well done, the twist is a punch to the gut as it has to be. It leaves a wondering after feeling, where you can't help but make up scenarios as to what might happen next.

Child of the Emptyness by Amanda J. Spedding

This is the first time I've read something from Amanda J. Spedding, so didn't really know what to expect. In hindsight I realise that she is the editor for Devin Madson's books, so I can tell she knows what she is doing.

The setting is interesting enough, and there is a hint of a complex world, with tribes/nations, a pantheon with its own legends and myths and rituals. We only get a glimpse of all these because of the format - it's called a short story for a reason. We witness one of these rituals, following Nyrra's lead. This story is undeniably grim and has a large cast of characters - large compared to the length. Although they have their purpose and there are no unnecessary moments, it distracted me a bit from the narrative that I had to keep track of all the characters and they also they took me away from possibly getting a better grasp of the world and the situation. Spedding is clearly talented and can set an atmosphere where the reader can feel the dread and the coming disaster in the air. Nyrra is an interesting character, but I found it hard to connect with her. Maybe if the story were longer and we learned more about her past than we did. The twists at the end were well placed and managed to surprise me a decent amount.

A Place of Peace and Joy and Rest by Brian Staveley

I've seen Staveley's name everywhere and I have had Skullsworn on my to-be-read list for over a year now, but somehow his words have escaped me until now. But finally we got to have our time together and it was worth the wait! I should move him up on my list...

A being appears and offers you a place of peace and joy and rest as a reward, but that's all you know. Would you accept it? A village tucked away in a valley faces this exact situation. Naturally, everyone reacts differently. We follow a handful of characters, most of all Kasem and his family. It's not a story I would call grimdark per se, but it definitely has an air of doom. Staveley is a pretty talented wordsmith who is able to pull you into the story and keep you there until the end whether you like it or not. It also works its way under your skin and keeps bugging you with those "what would have happened if" questions. I find that I like these types of stories which do not try to impress me with grandiose fighting scenes, or gore or violence. Stories that touch me on a deeper level, that makes me care. This is one of those. 

Full magazine content summary is as follows:

FICTION:
- A Risk of Malice by Devin Madson
- Child of the Emptyness by Amanda J. Spedding
- A Place of Peace and Joy and Rest by Brian Staveley

NON-FICTION:
- An Interview with Sebastien de Castell
- Review: City of Kings by Rob J. Hayes
- Review: Chasing Graves by Ben Galley
- An interview with Jen Williams
- Writing Relatable Anti-Heroes, or Learning how to Love the Broken Ones by Anna Stephens 

Timy - RockStarlit BookAsylum - https://starlitbook.com/ 
 

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