In effort to maintain my sanity (and stave of chapter 5 of Twilight & Philosophy), I thought I would enjoy another 3 stories from Clockwork Pheonix 3. I just picked the next three in order, however one will notice that all 3 have a “star crossed lovers” commonality running between them. I don’t know if this is intentional but it did make me laugh in retrospect.

Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s Day by Tori Truslow
The biggest part of this story is it’s format. It is a tale of a man that falls in love with a mermaid told through the style of a biographical essay. It’s not that bad of a style as the reader is immersed in another world which we are given glimpses of but never the full picture. One is warned of the ride we are in for when on the 2nd page there is a footnote to the story. A footnote! It reads:

Hamlet 1.1.118-9. How Shakespeare knew of the mer-people’s tidal migration to the moon remains a mystery, but these lines show that the Bard knew even more of Faery than we have given him credit for. Hamlet is not usually considered an elficological play, but in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Faeries C.C. Temple uncovers a wealth of hidden references and makes a compelling argument for Hamlet as a radically Faery-based text.

I dare say that part alone is worth the whole price of the book. I won’t spoil the rest but the impact of the story depends on how invested the reader gets. While I did find the world glimpsed of and the story format intriguing, I could never muster up much concern or care for the protagonists. I will grant that in a short story format it can be hard to create characters we love and appreciate, but this was a case of telling over showing. We are told that the main character is someone apparently so important to the world they merit a biographical essay but never really shown why we should care about them. I’ll give it points for creative effort and several moments like the one above that made me smile but over all this story just kind of left me cold.

Crow Voodoo by Georgina Bruce
This story I did not like. It’s not that I don’t mind challenging stories or head trips, but too many authors seem to think nowadays that you can be lazy and create mystery using obfuscation. Yes there is some hint of a proper story structure in here but there are so many meaningless tangents and randomized words laced throughout that it’s all drowned beyond sympathy. At the end there is an attempt for a shock ending but it can’t have any impact when you don’t give a damn about anyone involved. The reader is never given a good sense of what is metaphor and what is real until everything loses meaning. Such and such is going to die? Who cares! Dying probably means something else anyway. It’s also one of those very nihilistic stories but a failure at one. What usually makes literature horror work, or any horror, is the loss of something – something desirable. The world portrayed in this story is one so crappy, nothing has any impact. Who care is darkness or evil has a victory? As far as we can tell, it’s already won! In fact, death or oblivion seems like it’d be a step up for these people.

Hey, there’s a note in the back from the authors.

About the writing of her story in this volume, she
says “‘Crow Voodoo’ is mysterious. I had the first sentence
for a year, but no idea what it meant or what to do with it.
But it kept whispering to me, and one night I sat down to
write and found the story at my fingertips. Writing is not
usually like that, and most stories have to be built, shaped,
carved, forced, and coaxed into life. This one was waiting to
be found, its little heart already beating.”

My dear, you really should have polished it up a little more. Things found still need to be cleaned up and made presentable. So far, this is the worst one I’ve read in the book so far, and the only positive thing I have to say is that it makes the following story seem that much better.

Your Name is Eve by Michael M. Jones
Maybe it was impacted by the previous story, but this one is my favorite so far. This is how you blur the line between metaphor and reality and draw the readers in and invest them in your work. This is another paranormal romance with a mystical male falling in love with a moral female, but I will say this is done a lot better than anything we torch on this site (I dare say even falconempress might like it). I really don’t want to say much about it less I spoil something and you should go into this one blind. The only complaint about it I would have would be it’s violation of one of the main rules I pointed out in my first article for II. Of course, this is a short story so I can’t really fault the author for using a bit of a crutch in the romance… but you can also see the cracks in the story where maybe if he worked a little harder he could have achieved a more epic worthy romance.

Still, even that I’ll grade on a curve because… well you’ll just have to read for yourself to find out, won’t you? (Also, be sure to read the author’s note on the story in the back after you have read the tale, it has one of the funniest punchlines I’ve seen in awhile.)

Next time: The pluses are currently in the lead over the minuses 3-1 but there’s 11 left as we head through another 3 stories. Will we find additional encouragement for getting this book… or more reasons to set it on fire?

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  1. dragonarya on 5 May 2010, 11:28 said:

    What usually makes literature horror work, or any horror, is the loss of something – something desirable.

    Ohhhhh, now I see! I’ve been trying to figure out for a while what exactly makes something creepy or horrific, especially with minor characters that the reader doesn’t really know or care about.
    has a wonderful epiphany before realizing that she has no idea how to put it into story form

  2. ProserpinaFC on 5 May 2010, 13:29 said:

    Shakespeare. He knew about faeries.

    (Sidenote: HOW do I insert a quote in that beige?!)

  3. dragonarya on 5 May 2010, 15:23 said:

    @ Proserpina:

    Like this? It’s “bq. “(with the space after the period), and carriage returns before and after. In other words, press enter before and after the quote.

    That should help.

  4. Golcondio on 6 May 2010, 02:40 said:

    Hey Nate, do you mind if I point out that you misspelled the third person possessive (by the addition of the much-dreaded apostrophe)? I only say so because this website champions proper writing after all…
    Ok, I’m done whining, thanks for the very helpful review!

  5. Nate Winchester on 6 May 2010, 06:53 said:

    Thanks Golcondio. If that’s all I’ve misspelled, I’m improving.

  6. falconempress on 7 May 2010, 06:16 said:

    Hm, interesting reviews. Keep them coming:)

  7. ProserpinaFC on 7 May 2010, 10:26 said:

    Okay, I will try.

    “Quotey, quote, quote! “

    Did… did it work?

  8. ProserpinaFC on 7 May 2010, 10:38 said:

    Okay. Okay…

    Man, I am retarded.

    Okay, That worked. I am now not a n00b. Thank you, dragonarya, but especially thank you slyshy. :3

    The notation is “bq.”, without the quotation marks. And leave a space between that and the paragraph you wish to quote.

  9. Nate Winchester on 7 May 2010, 10:58 said:

    Yay! Cookies for all!

    SlyShy really needs to put detailed instructions on the bq. feature in the textile help, seems like we go through these instructions on an article once a month.

  10. dragonarya on 7 May 2010, 12:51 said:

    Oops, sorry for my bad explanation. I couldn’t quite remember Nate’s exact words when he explained it to me. >_<

  11. ProserpinaFC on 7 May 2010, 13:06 said:

    SlyShy really needs to put detailed instructions on the bq. feature in the textile help, seems like we go through these instructions on an article once a month.

    I feel empowered. Like receiving my first lightsaber.

  12. Mike Allen on 9 May 2010, 13:01 said:

    I am following these with interest, as you can imagine. (Obviously I agree in general with the positive nods and disagree with the negative ones, but I might be a tad biased. ;-) I think both I and the author find calling the love interest in the fourth story a “moral female” amusing. I presume you meant “mortal”?

  13. Nate Winchester on 9 May 2010, 14:21 said:

    hahahah, yes Mike, indeed I did. Funny how sometimes you can see a “t” that isn’t there.

  14. Mike Allen on 10 May 2010, 13:15 said:

    Funny how sometimes you can see a “t” that isn’t there.

    That phenomenon makes proofreading a challenge, period.