I’m excited to share with y’all a review for this anthology of sci-fi and fantasy stories from the Phoenix Fiction Writers!
Title: Strange Waters
Authors: the Phoenix Fiction Writers
(E.B. Dawson, C. Scott Frank, Janelle Garrett, Hannah Heath, Nate Philbrick, K.L. + Pierce, J.E. Purrazzi, Kyle Robert Shultz, Beth Wangler)
- Date read: January 30, 2020
- Rating: 5 stars
- Genre: Sci-fi / Fantasy / Short Stories / Anthology
- Year pub: 2019
- Pages: 302
- Source: The publisher
- Notes: I received a free e-copy of this anthology from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
- Links: Goodreads • Amazon • Author’s Website
(5 stars to the collection overall! The stories might have different ratings, but most of them are 4’s or 5’s, definitely!)
STRANGE WATERS features nine sci-fi and fantasy stories from nine different authors. These tales range from intense to all the feels to hilarious and they’re all original and well-written!
A couple of them were too scary for me personally, but kudos to all these authors for writing such captivating stories in such a short space, all incredibly different even though they all feature the image on the cover! I had a blast reading this!
Here are some brief thoughts on each story. 🙂
Backpack Boy – by Nate Philbrick
Wow, talk about good writing. O_O I haven’t read a story like this before but it was sooo interesting and well-written. I loved the backpack boy and how things weren’t as they seemed and the sheer imagination of it. There were definitely feels, and I love how everything slowly got revealed. So original and yet classic-seeming, and like a definition of childhood.
Finer Things – by C. Scott Frank
Whoa! I loved this one! It’s very sci-fi, and sci-fi has to work hard to make me like it, but I was intrigued the entire time, on the edge of my seat, and I really liked the characters and their lively banter! Soren is my fave. They’re adorable. I love it! Fabulous and one of my favorites. ^_^
Roanoke – by J.E. Purrazzi
This one is set on an icy planet and I felt sooo cold reading it, so I guess it succeeded. XD Intense and exciting and unique! I liked the time element, and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, rooting for our heroine Ketera! I’ve found myself thinking of this one several times since I read it and sometimes feel like I watched a movie of it instead of reading a short story.
Kamynosa’s Labyrinth – by Beth Wangler
I absolutely loved the islands and nautical feel of this one! Princess Kamynosa was a fierce part of this competition. XD I especially loved Jadairos! He was my favorite. 🙂 It’s told like a history, which meant it took me a minute to get into it, since we feel a little removed from the story at first, but was also a really cool touch in another way. And everything was so vivid!
Barnaby Brown and the Glass Sea – by E.B. Dawson
THIS ONE! Oh my word. XD I’ve adored every E.B. Dawson short story I’ve read so far, and this one was so, so much fun! This unorthodox archaeology professor and his snark, though! I love Barnaby Brown so much. XD I kept wanting to quote the whole thing. Throw in unlucky Oliver and some shenanigans and problems and it’s just a riot. I love it so much! The idea of an archaeologist on another world/planet is so cool, by the way. And the ending was suuuper intriguing! Aaahh! Plus, fabulous banter. I love banter and humor and this one totally has a ton of both. 😀 One of my favorites!
Through the Lens – by K.L.+Pierce
This one was really fascinating, if a little scary, and I really liked the mind elements to it. It felt sort of quest-like and I was really curious to see what was going to happen, because I had no idea! I was confused a couple of times, but got straightened out, and a couple of the twists I did not see coming at all. o.o So yes, great suspense, and intriguing!
Ric Vayne and the Curse of Ghoul Nebula – by Kyle Robert Shultz
Disclaimer: I edited this one. But it’s absolutely hilarious and I love it so much. XD Ric Vayne, a space wizard, gets turned into a space ship, and shenanigans ensue. His dry narration, the humor, and the hilarious way that Ovo (the bird-like alien character) speaks totally made this story. I kept laughing. XD Another favorite!
The Underground – by Janelle Garrett
This one was SUPER INTENSE and I’m pretty sure I didn’t breathe the entire time I was reading it! *nervous laughter* It was terrifying, dystopian-ish story, with a good blend of fantasy and sci-fi feel. Oh, and I really liked Kef! It was just a bit too creepy for me, personally (I don’t do well with scariness or dystopian feels!), but certainly super well-written, and I never knew where it was going to go next. I’m sure many readers will enjoy it. ^_^
This Pain Inside – by Hannah Heath
This one was super fascinating and intriguing! I had similar problems with it as with the previous one, because, again, I’m just not a dystopian/post-apocalyptic person — sorry! It was really intense and scary and full of feels. But the writing was awesome, and the message, and the ending, and everything was very vivid. The under-the-sea stuff was intriguing, and I loved the mermaid tails. So, too scary for me, but that’s just me. XD But I definitely couldn’t put it down! Wow. Oh, and I liked how music was a part of it!
Overall, my favorites were Barnaby Brown and the Glass Sea and Ric Vayne and the Mystery of Ghoul Nebula, because I love funny stories, and they were both just so much fun. XD But all of the others were super good too (even the scary ones!) and I really enjoyed the collection as a whole! Definitely check this one out! 🙂
A Few Favorite Quotes
“You don’t think they’ll come looking for us down here? They never come down here. They’ve never had a good enough reason.”
Soren smiles mischievously. “I’m afraid I may have given them one.”
— Finer Things (C. Scott Frank)
“But you haven’t told me much about this expedition,” Oliver said. “Maybe we could talk about that. What’s this exciting find?”
“Well, you remember when Folger discovered the ancient city of Telia Cross?”
Oliver’s face brightened a shade. “Yes.”
“Well, it won’t be like that,” Barnaby muttered.
Oliver’s face fell. “Probably just as well. I’m allergic to dust.”
“We’re investigating the origin of a strange marking on a two-inch piece of potsherd,” Barnaby said.
“That sounds a little more likely.”
“I had no idea archaeology was so dangerous,” Oliver said.
— Barnaby Brown and the Glass Sea (E.B. Dawson)
Everything was worse in the middle of the night, including sarcasm.
— The Underground (Janelle Garrett)
I also want to quote the entire Ric Vayne story (it’s by Kyle Robert Shultz; of course it’s quotable and hilarious), and more Barnaby Brown, but I will leave readers to discover them instead. XD
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Thanks for reading! 🙂