C.S.E. Cooney Of Black Gate Reviews PGS 4!
I liked “Psychic Family,” by Apol Lejano-Massebieau better, though. I’m a sucker for a good ghost story, and this one does some pretty neat things with time jumps and section breaks, devoting equal time between world immersion, character study and plot. The first person POV is compelling, a preteen girl whose mother and sister can see ghosts (she can’t; she feels left out), whose father is bankrupt, and whose only friend in the new bungalow they’re living in is Lily. Lily will walk into a room without a knocking, appear behind you when you least expect her, and wears old fashioned clothes. The tone of the narrator is light, but there’s a lurking creepiness, an underlying rot that makes the reader (this reader, anyway) VERY uneasy — which is just what’s supposed to happen in a ghost story.
“In the Dim Plane,” along with “Psychic Family,” was my favorite story in PGS. First of all, every single character in it is a villain. They all exist, after the fall of Forlorn, in a sort of half-life, “with almost no power left and no way to recover any more.” The narrator is the greatest Necromancer of Forlorn: Teros, AKA “Doom of Dirmoth.” His companions are Lord Jussin the Betrayer, “a fallen paladin who had denounced his queen for the promise of power”; Braxas, Harrower of Flame; Lizel Gorgist, The Widow’s Bane; and “the maxim-laden polymath Resa Undermasque, who had bartered parts of her body for knowledge.”
Even their names hint at back stories I’m eager to gobble (some more than others, I’ll admit, and I’ll admit I’m most curious about Resa Undermasque). There was a story-within-a-story that made the bulk of the plot, constantly interrupted by the obstreperous audience members, and a beautifully tidy wrap-up. It had all the good stuff — violence, romance, sparky dialogue, oppressive atmosphere… Pretty impressive, the worlds and characters a person can build in 12 pages!
I’d definitely recommend fantasy lovers to go to the Philippine Genre Stories website and check out their free online content. I had a lot of fun reading this little ‘zine and will be keeping my eye on some of these authors. Don’t miss out!