The Apprentice StorytellerThe Apprentice Storyteller by Astrid V.J.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Apprentice Storyteller is filled with vibrant color and hope.

The Apprentice Storyteller, written by Astrid V.J., is the first book of the Wishmaster series published by New Wings Press on December 10th, 2020.

When Viola, a traveling storyteller on the run, comes to a backwater town, she reluctantly picks up a boy who begs her to teach him the art of storytelling. Not wanting to involve him in her affairs, she declines him countless times. But she can’t shake the feeling there is something about him.

No matter how often depression or a negative attitude brings you down, this book tells you, you can. It’s a book filled with hope and different techniques to help combat a negative thought process – so you stop sabotaging yourself. Borderline manifestation magic, the moral shines like a beacon in these trying times.

This read was much needed in my TBR, considering the darker tones of the books I tend to read, along with the mental effects that tend to follow. I would recommend this book to those looking for a little bit of positivity to add to their world.

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Collective Darkness

Collective Darkness: A Horror AnthologyCollective Darkness: A Horror Anthology by Elizabeth Suggs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The folks at Editing Me have assembled a cast of authors with varying writing styles to invoke shivers in their readers regardless of their reading preferences.

Collective Darkness was published in 2020 by Editing Me. The anthology includes the distorted submissions from K.R. Patterson, Brandon Prows, Edward Suggs, Becca Rose, B.Todd Orgill, Austin Slade Perry, Chris Jorgensen, Elizabeth Suggs, Jonathan Reddoch, Alex Child, Jen Ellwyn, and Samuel Smith. There are some elements of gore that bear the need for a warning.

Feast by Edward Suggs
Reminiscent of a folk tale retelling, a mother and daughter wade through their familiar conflicts with each other to confront an unknown creature.

What really impressed me in this entry was Edward’s ability to translate the agony in the exchanges between the mother and daughter.

Padua’s Eyes by Jonathan Reddoch
Follow the origins of a faithful pony given a second life as their owner exacts their revenge.

Given that this was originally an entry to a disbanded contest whose only rules were to be about a vampire pony, I was happy to see what became of it. Too bad that contest disintegrated!

Pond Scum by Alex Child
Follow the youthful mischief of two boys as they flaunt their immunity to death in a way only a set of youth can.

From their packed lunches to their decision making, the story screams a carefree summer gone awry.

Brisket Please By Becca Rose
When the main character gets asked out by a senior actor and resident hunk, how can she prepare before her appointed date?

When horror happens to a cast of horror actors, do the victims make a sound?

The Figure in The Mirror By Brandon Prows
Revisiting his late grandfather’s estate, the main character unearths some things he would rather have not known.

This tale held my attention and would not let me put down the book. The elements of distorted innocence in and of itself were unsettling.

Red Flag by K.R. Patterson
A mother documents and recounts the clues for her son’s psyche, but when she suspects he might cross a line no one can ever come back from, she will do what a mother has to do.

The phycological aspects and perceptions of the story proved for a compelling plot device.

Crimson Snow by Austin Slade Perry
A group of four visits a family cabin, but a long-forgotten book the main character’s mother used to read captures the main character’s attention and won’t let him enjoy the trip.

Nothing is more horrifying than a desolate cabin filled with dread from a fear of the unknown.

The Last Light by B. Todd Orgill
A bodyguard for hire escorts his client through the dark, but his ace up his sleeve may not be enough for what he faces.

This should be a series. Witcher step aside.

Polter Geist by Jen Ellwyn
The main character is determined to regain ownership of his family’s vase.

The cadence and content reminded me of a Pixar short. Should you know, they delve into the macabre.

Fallout by Chris Jorgensen
When the sirens go off and the clientele of a pub bound together awaiting the all-clear, some odd happenings tug at their patience.

Chris did an excellent job of teasing the character’s internal phycological dread and how it results in team cohesion.

The Breathing Wall by Samuel Smith
When a scholar finds a book he should not have, his curiosities drive him to test the unknown.

My personal favorite of the collection, the classic writing style, and the premise had me itching for more.

Into The Dark by Elizabeth Suggs
An angle none have dared so far leads the main character to a psych ward to interview a murderer for a story.

The story explores the guilt of a murderer and the judgment that comes along with specific acts.

The first thing that grabbed my attention was the attention to the authors that Editing Me brought. From the forward to the carefully personalized author bios, a matter of relationships and trust shines through. The book bleeds with comradery to be jealous of. Just the choice to keep the author’s bios right after the story rather than at the back of the book emphasizes the author. It was a nice touch in my opinion.

I would recommend this book to those looking to try out different horror genres and maybe find a new author and style one might not have traversed otherwise.

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