Spells of Wonder 3of5 Anthology

When sword and sorcery fail, only words remain.

Spells of Wonder Anthology

Dialogue focused scenes drive stories inward, emphasizing the character’s inner conflict.

Festival Night 3/5

By Harry Turtledove

A young man, drunk on his own hubris, savors the delights of the festival. Eventually he tires and approaches a local merchant house, hoping only for a bed to stay the night. Instead he finds something that sets his blood alight with desire, blinding him to the signs of woe that herald his fate.

Colorful language paints a vivid backdrop, a city bursting with youthful joy and playful revelry. In the midst of celebration, a chance encounter becomes the beginning of a year long journey of anticipation. Only the omens and portents offer any tension, but they offer no real opposition. Events continue effortlessly, covering months in summaries, broken up by scant scenes that only serve to whet our appetite for the promised day. Eventually that day comes, heralding a marked shift in tone and focus. Suddenly the character faces an actual conflict, and struggles. Throughout the story, the advanced writing challenges audiences to read between the lines, hinting at the intimate desires that draw people together, and the weaknesses that test them. The contrasting tones certainly help to create a surprising ending, though some may need to read the story twice to realize its full meaning.

+Strong Use of Summaries
*Challenging Writing
-Slow Pacing


Kayli’s Quest 2.5/5

By Paula Helm Murray

A woman tending to her flock is beset by bandits. But a little magic sends them running. She returns to her village to find that they’ve taken a young girl with them. Their trail leads into the borderlands, a place of magic and dragons.

What follows is a simple adventure, complete with all the trappings of many an epic quest, but smaller in scale and tension. Characters suffer more at the hands of their neighbors and friends than they do from any formal opposition. And the protagonist consistently proves herself more than a match for anyone who challenges her. Curiosity proves the main driving force behind the story, though often it’s the implied story of the protagonist’s past that proves more interesting. Snippets of dialogue and memory hint at complex relationships and difficult choices. Compared to that the current story seems humble, even commonplace. An easygoing read, for those that want one.

+Rich Character History
*Humble Narrative
-Low Tension


The Seven Year’s Night 3/5

By M.H. Lewis

A minstrel heads into the mountains to visit an old friend. A storm breaks out, and when it clears she finds herself in another world, a place of symbols and magic. Guided by her songs, the minstrel follows the path before her, hoping it will lead her back home again.

At first the story seems very mundane and grounded. Only its use of present tense sets it apart. But soon the story becomes so otherworldly that it defies description, though that doesn’t stop the author from making a valiant effort. Lavish imagery paint a world rich with symbolic meaning, though sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between literal and figurative language.

Exploring this otherworld, the story suffers no shortage of tension, but through it all the protagonist remains almost inhumanely calm, drawing upon her extensive knowledge of myth and legend to navigate the various obstacles. The deeper meaning of the story may elude some, but many will enjoy colorful writing, and the adventure.

+Strong imagery & symbolism
*Distant character
*Vague themes/meaning


Next Time…
Spells of Wonder 4of5

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