Three Crows Magazine #3 by Alex Khlopenko

Series: Three Crows Magazine #3 Rating: 4/5
Date of Publishing: April 18th 2019 Genre: fantasy, dark fantasy, sci-fi
Publisher: Three Crows Magazine Available: Amazon, TCMPatreon
Number of pages: 61 Author’s website: http://threecrowsmagazine.com/

Quote of the Book

“Although we never mean to ignore Tommy he always seems to be on the outskirts of our conversations. Even within the tight-knit group of dwarves he’s shunned a little as if he makes them uncomfortable. He’s not the brightest, or nicest of buttons our Tommy, but we still love him.”

Riggers by RJ Barker

Blurb

“Riggers” by RJ Barker – a fantasy horror from the antler overlord himself.

“Upcycle” by Monica Wang – a science fiction bureaucratic comedy.

“Necessary Evil” – a modern folk-fantasy about a dog-loving, rolling-pin wielding, monster hunter prowling on the cold shores of Baltic sea.

Non-fiction:

Interview with BSFA-winning author of “Ack-Ack Macaque” and “Embers of War” – Gareth L. Powell.

Long-awaited “Intruders in Gormenghast” – Olivia Hofer analyzes the lasting legacy of Mervyn Peake and what shaped his tastes and style.

“Women’s Country” – Dan Stubbings evaluate the controversial legacy of Sheri S. Tepper

+ Reviews of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Illang: The Wolf Brigade, and Brian McLellan’s “Uncanny Collateral”.

Personal notes

I’ve got a free copy from Alex Khlopenko, editor of Three Crows Magazine in exchange of an honest review. Thanks for the opportunity Alex! 🙂

 

Song of the Book

Okay, this one is easy. In my review for issue #2 I picked Roses by Poets of the Fall. I’ll keep the band, but this time around I’ll go with my favorite song from them which goes well with the Riggers. At least the video. The lyrics not so much, but this was the first song that came to mind.

Review

This time around I found a bit harder to review the third issue of Three Crows Magazine. Not because it’s worse, far from it. Once again, they managed to feature such authors as RJ Barker, who made a name for himself in SFF lately, Anna K. Scott and Monica Wang.

This issue has less short stories, but it contains more other content. Such as an article in memory of Gene Wolfe, an interview with Gareth L. Powell, a game review of Sekiro, bookreview of Uncanny Collateral, a movie review of Illang, an article about the legacy of Sheri S. Tepper and an analysis about the Gormenghast series.

Three Crows Magazine has ambitious goals to give a spotlight for many forms of art within the SFF scene. Personally I would have liked to see at least one more short story in the mix, but whatever your preferred media is – games, movies, books – you’ll find something in this issue.

As always, my review will focus on the short stories, but I urge you to buy your copy and give a chance to the crows to feast on your, erm, wallet. And your passion for SFF. They love feeding on that I hear.

 

Riggers by RJ Barker – 4.5/5

If I didn’t get a review copy of this issue, I probably would have bought it anyway, just because of RJ Barker. I’ve heard a lot about his The Wounded Kingdom series and it’s high up on my TBR list, so I was curious. As I hear, Riggers is nothing like his books, which is fine by me, it still can give me an idea if I’ll like his style or not. After reading this short story I think Barker and me will get on just fine. He definitely can set the atmosphere with only a handful of sentences and sketch up a scene.

In the Riggers we get a peek into the life of a circus, which is one of the best settings if you want to have a bunch of unusual characters at one place. We don’t get to know them much, but it’s pretty clear they all have their stories. Still, my favorite character was Tommy, the dwarf. Maybe because I could symphatize with him – being looked over and swearing like a sailor. But Riggers is too short. I have a feeling I would totally dig a novel about these characters with an intriguing mystery plot. But in Riggers we were only scratching the top layer. The only reason I don’t give this a 5 is that I was a bit disappointed by the ending. It was too abrupt and in all honesty, it was lacking plot. Okay, okay, I know it’s a short story which doesn’t leave much place to a plot, but I can’t decide what this story really wanted to tell. We don’t get answers much, but you can’t really get rid of the feeling that there is so much more to this story. That we only got a glimpse at this world and you can’t help but want more. All that said, I’m looking forward to read more from Barker in the near future.

 

Upcycle by Monica Wang – 3.5/5

Put your hand up if you ever cursed bureaucracy. I’m sure we all did it at one time, maybe even our life depended on it in a way. Though I doubt it was anything close to what the MC of Upcycle went through.

I like the idea and concept behind this story, though I found it hard to really get into it or feel anything for the MC. To be fair, it was built up really well, as the MC found itself. The twist at the end was delicious, but I would have liked a bit more worldbuilding if I’m honest.

 

Necessary Evil by Anna K. Scott – 4/5

I’ve the most trouble reviewing Necessary Evil. It’s writing is good, and it has a pretty interesting worldbuilding too. Also extra points for the Hungarian puli reference! Technically there is nothing much I can criticise here, really. What troubles me is Ieva, the MC and the way she dealt with the problem – if there was one to begin with. She arrives to the beach to investigate mysterious disappearances. Once she gets to the bottom of things, she acts before she asks questions. She is a badass figther there is no question about it, but the way this story played out left several uncomfortable questions: who Ieave really is, why did she act the way she did, why was she so sure she was right, was being evil necessary? As with Riggers, I think Necessary Evil would have worked better in a longer form. But the setting is promising and I liked the folktale vibe so I definitely wouldn’t write Anna K. Scott down just yet.

 

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