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Murky Depths #4
Edited by Terry Martin
Cover Artist: Vincent Chong
Review by Sam Tomaino
Murky Depths  ISBN/ITEM#: 1752-5586
Date: 23 June 2008

Links: Publisher's Website / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

Murky Depths #4 – The Quarterly Anthology of Graphically Dark Speculative Fiction is here with stories by D.K. Thompson, Michael A. Pignatella, Edward Morris, Richard Barber, and others.

The new issue of Murky Depths, sub-titled The Quarterly Anthology of Graphically Dark Speculative Fiction is #4 and has its usual mixed bag of stories and art.

After the serialized story, "Dark Gospel" by Luke Cooper (which I will skip for now), the fiction in the issue begins with "Saint Darwin's Spirituals" by D.K. Thompson. This is a Jack the Ripper type story but it has a different twist. It takes place in an alternate universe in which in addition to having written "The Origin of the Species", Charles Darwin (now a Saint) wrote "The Origin of the Spirits", revealing the presence of ghosts and other supernatural creatures. All this makes for a very well-told tale. "Michael A Pignatella's "Miracle" features Elliot Harris who is dying of cancer. He has given up all hope but has a dream that he must go to Ecuador to fulfill some sort of destiny. To afford it, he must turn over his life insurance policy to a disreputable company. Pignatella weaves a nice story that has some surprises.

A graphic story, "Rex the Dog" by Mur Lafferty and Dan Gardner gives us a fun take on the classic basic reader story. In Edward Morris' "First Aid", a man suffers from an unusual plague and Morris very effectively portrays his suffering. "Flave's Formula" by Jason Palmer features a man who goes to great lengths to build up his body in a remarkably chilling tale.

Louise Cypher's "The Man With the Hologram Face" is a brief but well-done look at Peter, who has suffered a horrible disfigurement. While there is a way to compensate for this, Peter's mutilation is more than just skin-deep. "Warped", a graphic story from James Johnson and Leonardo M. Giron gives us a very difficult rescue mission with a very disturbing conclusion.

Next comes "Paternoster Blues" by Richard Barber. A "paternoster" is a type of elevator that seems to be an open "cubicle" on which people just step on as it rises. After that one rises, another follows in a continuous loop. This is the way students get from one floor to the other in a classroom building. Garry is, for some reason, afraid of what will happen to him if he gets on this "lift". Barber is a talented storyteller and has a good one to tell here.

C.S. MacGrath's "Casting Sin" is something of a disappointment. Hedea is a woman who must suffer some torment for sin in a story too brief to really generate any interest or believability. Also, too brief is "Day Boy" by Trent Jamieson. Our narrator is a "Day Boy", some sort of lackey for a powerful man who rules a town. When his master is found dead, he must take action. As I said, the story is too brief to get a real sense of his world.

The issue concludes with another graphic story, "The Visitor" by R.D. Hall and Dennis Pacher. This one is a scary little story about where real horror lies.

All in all, Murky Depths is a good little horror magazine. If you like a mix of art and story, this is for you.


Our Readers Respond

From: Terry Martin
    "Day Boy" has so far received the most votes on the Murky Depths website for Issue #4.

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