Former Grim Reaper Palequus and discharged cherub Peter are back! While on a fairly innocuous personal mission at a comic convention, troublemakers–inspired by the setting and influenced by a clever baddie named Supremo–rear their heads.
I am so pleased that Mr. Ortiz is writing more ebooks featuring this pair. When I finished this story, I felt like I came away with more cool worldbuilding, especially in regards to Palequus and what he can do. I have a thing for angels, but Palequus is pretty badass. The narrative does feel a little unbalanced because of this focus on him though, as I feel Peter is more along for the ride. But I like both of the protagonists, so it’s not really a problem for me.
The way Mr. Ortiz writes Supremo is interesting. At first he feels like that generic bad guy who is really powerful and has no real motivations but power and destruction. But then he proves himself to be very smart and have specific weaknesses. And by the end, there is a twist on his character that is really intriguing. I do wish that more hints of this end twist could be present earlier in the story. Considering Palequus and Supremo seem to have a past together, I think there are opportunities to mine that history and use it explore the characters more.
Overall, this story is fun. There are twists where I don’t expect them, and spots of humor that hit the mark. (Like the Facebook thing. Oh, SO TRUE.) I obviously enjoy the cool fantasy elements. I do wish there were more to the ending. Right now it feels a little too quick, like I don’t have enough time to process the revelations and what’s happening. Don’t get me wrong, I like the actual plot ending, I just think more narrative time could be spent on it.
When comparing this short to the first Infinity, Ltd story, Unnatural Time, the two feel quite different. Where Unnatural Time was about a mission in a setting that was brimming with the fantastic, 1963! has fantastic elements based in realistic settings. Unnatural Time also, through plot points, spent more time with both Palequus and Peter as characters. In 1963! there is less of that internal gaze and more focus on external action. I think I enjoyed Unnatural Time more because of the above, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time in 1963!
Thanks to Mr. Ortiz for providing the review copy of this story.
You can find the ebook at Smashwords here for 99 hot cents!
All right, time for some short story reviews! Haven’t done one of these in a while. These are two stories you fantasy lovers don’t want to miss.
The story follows a hitman’s job that is more complicated and surprising than one would expect. To say much more, I’m afraid, would spoil the read so I’ll hold back.
This is a story that played with my expectations right from the start, and from the first twist I fell in love. If you happen upon a summary of the story, I’d suggest not reading that summary and allowing yourself the full experience if you like good fantasy. Just know that there is an assassin and there is a guy who has lived a really, REALLY long time.
As good writers do, Pratt treats the fantastical elements with a weight that makes them real and believable. It helps so much that his characters are so unique and filled out, even in the limited page space. They seem so human, even if some are physically barely that.
It isn’t just craft that impresses me here, though. Pratt has taken a great what-if scenario (think: very long life) and worked out the real-life (though fantastical) consequences of the scenario. It’s a fairly common what-if, if I think about it, but I’ve never seen it treated this way before. Great world-building and thoughtfulness involved that really sank into me.
Apparently there is more of this hitman in Pratt’s Marla Mason series?… I’m gonna have to get onto reading those books!
This story is available as an ebook from Barnes & Noble and Amazon for 99 hot cents! I’d suggest buying the whole Hart & Boot & Other Stories collection for just $3, which includes this story. I haven’t gotten through the whole thing, but just from what I’ve read, the collection is so worth it!
A retried Grim Reaper and a discharged cherub investigate a very odd traveling carnival run by the mysterious Mr. Kite. Kind of like The X-Files, but stranger… in a cool way.
Yes, we’re back with Mr. Ortiz! I don’t know if you remember my reviews of his other stories, but the more I read his work, the more I love it. My particular affection for this story might have to do with the fact that the angel has wings and is self-conscious of them. And that’s at the beginning of the story.
Ortiz wastes no time introducing the odd pair of investigators. The story starts in a scene and lets the details of the scene slowly build up and organically inform the reader. There isn’t much introduction necessary, anyway, the real story is the secret behind Mr. Kite’s odd shows, such as the “Seven-Second Empires.”
As the story goes on, I am really drawn into the strangeness of the whole situation–a Grim Reaper, a cherub, really weird carnival shows. I love that Ortiz has imagined a world where the various oddities can exist on the same plane. The writing is fantastic, really doing justice to bringing the fantasy to an imaginable life.
My only gripe, and it is a small one, is that the ending doesn’t have as much oomph as I want it to. I don’t think this is exactly a negative aspect of the story. Rather, I feel as if I want to read more about these characters so I know how they manage to do what they do. I feel like I’m missing part of their story in a larger sense… But there could be more stories in the future, so that’s a good sign!
Whew! It’s been a while since I’ve posted. My birthday happened and in addition to getting lost in the heap of publications I’m trying to get published in, I received a nook from one of my wonderful friends. I used to be an old fuddy-duddy when it came to e-readers, but I softened up over the years and now I have my own! (Don’t worry, I’m still madly in love with paper books.) Will show off and review my new little friend in another post. Part of the fun of having an e-reader is the ability to download lots of different samples in the span of minutes. I’ve been jumping from novel to novel but I still have my physical to-read pile to choose from so now I’ve finally stopped playing and browsing long enough to do the important thing–read! I haven’t finished a new book yet, but I have discovered short stories available in e-format. Here are a couple.
Happy Fourth of July, if you celebrate it! If not, happy Monday!
The stories we read and watch usually center around heroes and their journeys and (more often than not) their ultimate triumph over evil. But rarely does a story explore the everyman’s consequences for watching a hero save the day. This story does.
The premise of this story enticed me when I first read it. It’s a very short read, which makes me a bit sad. I’m all for short stories, but I think if it this particular story had been longer, this theme further and more painstakingly explored, the stakes and the emotional impact could have been amped up.
The story is fairly straightforward, told in retrospect. I think my main problem was the lack of tension. There is perhaps a little too much foreshadowing, which led me to predict what would happen. And once I knew the ending, my investment was forced. This workshop issue of the inevitability of an ending comes to mind. My Workshop Self would ask for a way that this story be complicated. At the very least, for the story to use this exciting premise to say something new. Considering that it’s an intriguing, different take on the superhero story, there is so much potential.
Ironically, the hero in this story is a bit of an ass. And not in the way I expected. I give points for how his character influenced the outcome of the event.
All in all, an average read.
A man goes on a walk across a bridge and is haunted by odd visitors and screams.
I enjoyed this story much more than the previous. As I read, I found myself drawn into the suspense of what was happening. Also, I get scared easily and it was night time and even with my lights on, I was a little freaked out. (Yeah, I’m just a scaredy-cat…)
The foreshadowing is better handled in this one. I didn’t mind that I had some inkling as to how it would end. This time it was about how we got there. The reader is right there with the narrator, feeling everything he’s feeling, seeing everything he’s seeing. There’s something to be learned in this example of suspense/horror writing.
I think it could have been a little longer as well as there are some vague questions about the visitors (at least, I have questions about them), but at present, it’s still a nice, quick read.
Cover photos from goodreads.com.