IMHO

Monday, April 11, 2005

Shadowed Realms 3 ed by Shane Jaraiya Cummings and Angela Challis

This is the second magazine I've reviewed, but this time it's a webzine. I decided to review Shadowed Realms for two reasons.
1. I like to draw attention to local products
2. Lee has a story appearing in it and I always encourage readers to look at my husband's work.

So what is it?
Shadowed Realms is a webzine produced by two newcomers to the scene, Shane Jaraiya Cummings and his partner Angela Challis.

What does it do?
Basically it fills two publishing holes in the Australian market. Not only does it pay (5c per word) for flash fiction up to 1,000 words, it publishes short horror.

Is it any good?
Visually, the site is beautiful. The art work is pleasing to the senses as are the sound effects. The site is easy to navigate and the submission guidelines are logical given the editorial intent. So, yes, on the whole, it's very good.

But what about the fiction content?
Seven stories are dished up to us in this issue. I'll give them to you in order of appearance, along with my impressions.

Pater Familias by Lee Battersby
My own beloved husband wrote this. I saw it as it developed from the idea stage to being sent off. I thought that any problems I had with it were ironed out. Then I read it again today and I have to ask, what happened to the boy babies. Don't ask the author. He doesn't know. Anyway, it's still a solid, well-crafted and rather icky story and one of my two favourite that appear here.

Faith by Bruce Golden
Another solid piece and one that socked me with its twist. I thought the last paragraph could have been handled a little better as it let the pacing down with a too-pat ending.

Live Report by Kurt Newton
Hmmm. Not a lot to say about this one, one way or another. I think this was one that didn't make the Zeppelin Anthology (review coming up in a future edition of IMHO) and after reading some of those that didn't make it, I can understand why. Not because there's anything wrong with it. Just that living zeps had already been covered. My one real nit-pick is an editorial one. I felt some of the words used were rather passive and made the story feel rather ho-hum.

Fault Lines by Craig Wolf
My other favourite story. This story was shocking in its structure and its craft. I loved this piece and would have snapped it up for TicOn if it had passed our desk. Well done, Shane and Ange for recognising this one.

Phone Call by S Char
I always find something positive in everything I read, and the positive thing I find here is that it didn't contain a closed plot-line. The story could have gone anywhere. Unfortunately, it went right where an amateur would take it. I saw the ending from a mile off. The crafting was a little weak, being rather heavy on adjectives and 'said-bookisms' and unnecessary information. I really didn't think we needed to know about the past and present history of the Spencer Building. It just felt like padding. I don't know the author so don't know how established they are in the scene, but I do feel they need to work on their delivery a little more. Having said that, she does show a lot of promise.

Accidental Art by Eric Marin
Nice use of first person narrative and description. The protagonist's state of mind is nicely set up, and their distraction is believable.
However.
This piece was both overwritten (although only slightly) and predictable. The title alone leads the mind down an obvious track which is then backed up by the first paragraph.

Mean Street by Josh Rountree
This was beautifully crafted and well executed: as an excerpt for something longer.
Mean Street didn't strike me as a story, so much as the idea behind a story. Put simply, nothing happens. It is all description and set up. The character is the city, which can work, but doesn't here because we're not given enough to work with. I feel this piece is a bit of a waste as it stands and should be given a more thorough treatment.

Phew!

Final impression time. I think Shane and Angela have a fine vision and a good eye for what works in a magazine. I like my fiction dark and this site certainly contains that. All in all, I'd say 'well done guys. Keep up the good work.'

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