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Skelos 3: The Journal of Weird Fiction and Dark Fantasy by Mark Finn, Chris Gruber, Jeffrey Shanks
Edited by Mark Finn, Chris Gruber, Jeffrey Shanks
Cover Artist: William Blake
Review by Sam Tomaino
Skelos Press Magazine (print/digital)  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780998701011
Date: 26 October 2017 List Price $14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Skelos / How to Purchase / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

Skelos #3 is here with stories by John R. Fultz, Michelle Muenzler, Keith Taylor, Rhona Eudaly, Edward M. Erdelac, Scott Cupp, Lynne Jamneck, Christopher Fulbright, S. Boyd Taylor, Cynthia Vespia, Josh Rountree, Chris Gruber, and John C. Hocking, along with poetry, essays, special features, and reviews.

Skelos is a square-bound magazine, published three times a year by Skelos Press. It has original stories of "weird fiction and dark fantasy", poetry, essays, special features, and reviews. Here are reviews of the fiction in Issue #3.

The short fiction begins with "Ten Thousand Drops of Holy Blood" by John R. Fultz. -+- This is told from the viewpoint of a sword made by the warlock Vallicus and called by him Paragon, the Blade Indomitable. He uses it to overthrow Emperor Typhonis, ruler of the Empire of the Hundred Gods. But when Vallicus has established his dictatorial rule, he hangs the sword up. The sword still thirsts for blood and gets a message from the spirits of the Hundred Gods to avenge them. What is the sword's actual destiny. Nice twist to this unique tale.

"Cats of Dornishett" by Michelle Muenzler -+- A brief one-pager about curious felines in a curious town that visitors never understand. Nicely done.

"Book of Blasphemy" by Keith Taylor -+- In 1930s Oakland, corrupt detective Andy Byrne is assigned to investigate the gruesome murders of two brothers who were deep into the occult. They had some very creepy things in their house including a very valuable book called Al Azif. Byrne begins to plot how he can sell the book for a lot of money. It's not surprising that things do not go well. Good to see the typical Lovecraftian horror in a noirish setting.

"The Collection" by Rhona Eudaly -+- Dr. Brett O'Mara has acquired something new for the Special Collections section of the library. You get the feeling that it's not just a book. It isn't. Good buildup and payoff.

"The Muttwhelp" by Edward M. Erdelac -+- Morgarth is muttwhelp. His father had been some nameless ork who cruelly abused his mother when he raped her. Morgarth was scorned by humans and after his mother died, joined the hordes of the ork Odius Khan when he conquered all the humans, elves, and dwarves of the land except for Glean, Morgart's hometown. But as they prepare to conquer this last human town, Muttwhelp gets a good look at the Khan and makes a discovery. Great story!

"The Killing" by Scott Cupp -+- In Oklahoma Territory, life is hard. Our narrator's husband, Johnny, must shoot a boy with rabies to put him out of his misery. His job isn't over with that. Grim little tale.

"Edderkop" by Lynne Jamneck -+- After the death of his wife from a drug overdose, our narrator moves far away and gets a job as a custodian at an old mansion being renovated. Exploring, he finds a spider the size of his palm in the basement but leaves it alone. He meets a Danish boy who lives next door who makes odd statements -- something about "they" coming inside. There are a few more odd incidents but not really enough happens.

"Curse of the Dripping Blade" by Christopher Fulbright -+- On vacation on the Isla de Caterina which has a reputation for Vodun, policeman Kurt Grant meets his friend, Carlos Alejandro, and immediately stumbles upon a cult obsessed with a dead Vodun priest and the legend of the sword that killed him which supposedly bleeds on the anniversary of his death. Exciting story. Another good read.

"Fat Charlie" by S. Boyd Taylor -+- After a hurricane, Elijah and Jess find an angel calling himself Charles the Fat stuck in the bayou in back of their house. Elijah winds up shooting him in the stomach leaving a permanent hole in it. The not-very-angelic Fat Charlie winds up living with Elijah and Jess and their parents, a seriously dysfunctional family and becomes a media sensation with one hilarious thing after the other. Funny, wild story!

"Invitation to Dine" by Cynthia Vespia -+- Brandt's life has gone bad and all he wants is to have hot sex with beautiful women. He meets Tanya in a bar who seems to know all about him. Good ending to this one.

"Last Pale Light in the West" by Josh Rountree -+- Our narrator is a boy who tells us of the time he hunted down the Devil to kill him. The Devil had been to his town and burned it down, killing his mother. He starts out with two killers and an alcoholic preacher. This is all set in Texas after the Civil War. But there is more to the boy than just what he tells us in the beginning and that's what makes this a better than the average tale. Good sense of time and locale, too.

There are two novelettes. The first is "Dead River Revenge - Part 1" by Chris Gruber. I will review this when it is complete.

The other novelette is "Pawns in the House of Ghosts" by John C. Hocking. -+- Our narrator, called only Archivist (his profession), and a soldier named Lucella have been ordered by the Princess Eurythenia to buy some incriminating letters from her brother, Prince Domitian, to a shaman named Larkspur in a neighboring and unfriendly country. Larkspur's servant is selling the letters unbeknownst to his master. But the task is easy and is complicated by Benhus, the King's Blade who is also after the letters, Larkspur's monster dogs, and Larkspur himself. The Archivist shows he is more than just that profession. This was a thoroughly enjoyable high fantasy story with a lot of imaginative details. I'd like to see more stories with these characters.

Skelos is a great little magazine. Consistently good stories, plainly told. It's also got some interesting nonfiction. I highly recommend it I will be looking forward to the next issue.

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