The Book Of Apex: Volume 4 of Apex Magazine edited by Lynne M. Thomas

ApexVolume4Why I Read It: Andrea from The Little Red Reviewer said it’s a damn good book.

Where I Got It: A review copy from the publisher (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: SFF short story fans.

Publisher: Apex Book Company (2013)

Length: 368 pages

Contributing Authors: Catherynne M. Valente, Lavie Tidhar, Alethea Kontis, A. C. Wise, Richard Bowes, Mari Ness, Thoraiya Dyer, Rachel Swirsky, Rahul Kanakia, Brit Mandelo, Ian Nichols, Ken Liu, Alec Austin, Sarah Monette, Marie Brennan, Kat Howard, Genevieve Valentine, Katharine E. K. Duckett, Adam-Troy Castro, Mary Robinette Kowal, Cecil Castellucci, Alex Bledsoe, Shira Lipkin, Tim Susman, Eugie Foster, Lettie Prell, Elizabeth Bear, Christopher Barzak, Michael Pevzner, Cat Rambo, Sarah Dalton, David J. Schwartz

This little book blog tour that Andrea organized is very cool in that reviews can be on the whole book, or just a few of the stories contained therein. Due to some time constraints and life happening (oh, yes, I do have a life, as tiny as it may be – and lately best described as chasing a screaming rooster around the neighbors field with a big gay towel), I have only had the pleasure of reading two stories of this collection so far. Below, are my thoughts on those two stories. I will plan to add to this review as I enjoy further stories in this collection – because look at that list! Such a gorgeous collection of authors all in one place!

Sweetheart Showdown by Sarah Dalton
Shay-Shay is in the hospital for a skin graft for her upcoming Sweetheart beauty contest. Her mother Ma-lee fully encourages her constant quest to be up-to-minute beautiful. This tale gets twisted pretty quick. Part cyborgs? Sabotaging mind messages? Wait, there’s blades? Yeah, a tidy little bit of twisted competition for the ladies. At first, Sarah Dalton lulled me into believing this story was simply about a futuristic beauty contest. But then she brought out not only the swimsuit competition but also the brass knuckles……and hair blades…..and semi-automatics. Yeah. Not your average beauty contest at all!

Murdered Sleep by Kat Howard
Kora receives an invitation, just the address. But she knows the time to meet is midnight. ‘Sleep’s abandoned children, all gathered home and called to their revels.’ That line from the story caught my imagination and summed up much of the tale. A phoenix that drops rubies, and bejeweled snails that rain from the ceiling. This masque is full of dreams, and Kora has been invited to it. This was a beautiful, lyrical story. When it was done, I wanted to read it all over again.

The Bread We Eat in Dreams by Catherynne Valente
This was a rich story about a demon through the ages. She got kicked out of her hot home, for what, we don’t know. But now has to reside on Earth as a woman in a little cottage. And things could be tough for a disowned lonely demon in the 1600s New England coast. Of course, witch burning comes up, but it has this twist.  Beautiful story.

The Leavings of the Wolf by Elizabeth Bear
A divorced woman, her crows, and a wedding ring stuck on a fat finger. Dagmar is a runner, but is out of practice, having put on pounds during the end of her marriage. But she soldiers on through aching joints and painful shoes. And she has her crows, the ones who have learned to recognize her face through her college studies on crow behaviors. They follow her wherever she runs. They pretend to listen. I liked this story because the magic was two-fold: A woman interacting with her surroundings and finding connection with crows; and then later in the story another little tidbit that I won’t ruin for folks but is worthy. The night I finished this story, I kept pondering this: It is not a waste if it is a sacrifice. Like a sacrifice to moving on with your life. Two thumbs up for making me think.

The 24 Hour Brother by Christopher Barzak
This tale was shorter and at first I wanted more. But then, upon reflection, I felt it was right since it is about a boy, Joe,who is born, grows, and dies within 24 hours. It is told from the big brother’s perspective. We often see Lewis quietly watching all that goes on around him, either blending into a corner or hovering over his ‘baby’ brother protectively. A poignant little story.

I read this book as part of The Book of Apex Blog Tour organized by Andrea from The Little Red Reviewer. If you’d like to read more reviews, check out interviews, guest posts, even giveaways, head over to Little Red Reviewer ( click HERE) to see the full tour schedule.


4 thoughts on “The Book Of Apex: Volume 4 of Apex Magazine edited by Lynne M. Thomas”

  1. Sweetheart Showdown is totally freaky! beauty pagents always creep me out, so at first i was a little creeped out. Then I got used to it, and felt okay. then the end hit, and i was freaked out all over again! I felt bad for the other girl, the girl who had won 3 times.

  2. I thought Sweetheart Showdown was a really good story. Amongst my favourites. I also really liked the story of the Baron – really made me think (not always a good thing of course!)
    Lynn 😀

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