Author Sherwood Smith, who has reviewed virtually every issue of Black Gate, shares her thoughts on our latest issue in a feature review at SF Site:
This issue of Black Gate, clocking in at 384 pages, is more book than magazine…. A few stories are outstanding, and most of the rest are solid entertainment. Add in generous page count on reviews, and the issue is a strong one. Readers tempted to start subscribing ought to consider beginning with this issue, as the prices are going to go up. (Though so is the page count.)
She admits to being pleasantly surprised by “The Word of Azrael” by Matthew David Surridge:
When I read that this tale was “initially inspired by the old Conan paperbacks which preceded each story with a snippet of Conan’s bio,” I groaned…. Was I wrong! Within two pages, Surridge’s deft, ironic voice had disarmed me. We begin on a battlefield where seven kings and their armies died. The warrior Isrohim Vey wakens alone, except for the Angel of Death… What follows seems to be a series of iceberg-tip stories, that is, the climactic moments of what could have been longer tales. Increasingly intriguing tales. The reader begins to perceive patterns weaving them together into a tapestry of solid gold.
She highlights several additional pieces, including “On a Pale Horse” by Sylvia Volk:
Salsabil regards her father’s mare as her sister, as they share the same name. This isn’t a problem until she takes her sister grazing, and discovers a single-horned stallion following them…. Drought brings the raiding Mutair down on Salsabil’s people. Though they do their best to fight back, they are being driven out of their own lands, many of them killed, but meanwhile the mysterious horned pale horse follows them… A lovely story with a flavor of Arabian Nights.
And “La Señora de Oro” by R L Roth:
A few years ago, my spouse inherited some letters written by one of his ancestors who was a silver miner just after the gold rush. Roth’s epistolary story, which takes place between March and September 1850, is an eerie match in tone and (early on) in details as Tom writes to his wife Annie, telling her about his search for the gold that is supposed to save his family from want. The story is fantasy-horror, the fantastic element serving as a metaphor for what happened to far too many gold rush miners… Hats off to Roth for a disturbingly well-wrought tale, pitch-perfect for the period.
The complete review is here.