Nothing Is Everything

Nothing Is EverythingNothing Is Everything by Simon Strantzas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Simon Strantzas’s fifth collection brings together ten prime examples of why he’s considered one of the best authors of “strange stories” working today. He’s a master at building a sense of unease and keeping his readers off-balance. You won’t find explanations for supernatural occurrences in a Simon Strantzas story, but you will find yourself thinking about them long after you’ve read them. Among the strongest pieces in this collection, in my opinion, are the novella “All Reality Blossoms in Flames,” in which a group of anti-establishment artists take up a cause that turns out to be part of something much larger than they can control, and “The Terrific Mr. Toucan,” in which a cheap dinner-theater magic show goes hauntingly awry. But the strongest story in the collection, and my absolute favorite, is “Ghost Dogs,” which is an expert piece of dark science fiction that utilizes pitch-perfect voice and tone. An original story to the collection, “Ghost Dogs” is worth the cover price alone. Strantzas’s fiction continues to leave me in awe, and NOTHING IS EVERYTHING is a welcome addition to his growing body of work.

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Rat Queens, Vol. 5: The Colossal Magic Nothing

Rat Queens, Vol. 5: The Colossal Magic Nothing (Rat Queens, #5)Rat Queens, Vol. 5: The Colossal Magic Nothing by Kurtis J. Wiebe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Huh. That was weird. It definitely explained the time jump that confused and frustrated me in the previous volume, as well as answering my questions about whether the cliffhanger ending of volume 3 would ever be resolved. But I’m not sure I liked it.

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Rat Queens, Vol. 4: High Fantasies

Rat Queens, Vol. 4: High Fantasies (Rat Queens, #4)Rat Queens, Vol. 4: High Fantasies by Kurtis J. Wiebe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Rat Queens are off on a new adventure, trying to make money by taking jobs from the local “quest board.” Some time has passed since the end of volume 3, and therein lies the main problem I had with this volume. The cliffhanger ending of volume 3, which saw Hannah imprisoned in an interdimensional jail and confronted with a literal demon from her past while the rest of the Rat Queens went their separate ways, remains unresolved. When volume 4 picks up, everyone is back together and all is apparently forgiven, leaving the reader with no idea what happened. Even Hannah’s father, Gerard, is out of prison now and living with them (which, incidentally, leads to one of the funniest sequences in the book). I found myself both confused and frustrated by this time jump. The characters, the D&D-on-crack world, and the snarky, raunchy dialogue remain as enjoyable and engrossing as ever, but my frustration lingered. Another issue I had was that Owen Gieni’s art just didn’t do it for me. His style is way too cartoonish for my taste, and I barely recognized some of the characters. I’m still enjoying the series, but I’m starting to worry that it’s all falling apart.

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Rat Queens, Vol. 3: Demons

Rat Queens, Vol. 3: DemonsRat Queens, Vol. 3: Demons by Kurtis J. Wiebe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The exploits of your favorite fantasy adventuring team continue in this volume, in which Hannah goes back to her alma mater, the succinctly named Mage University, to break her father out of prison. Unfortunately, things go from bad to worse, culminating in long-buried secrets coming to light and a surprisingly emotional confrontation among the Rat Queens. Will anything be the same after this? Kurtis J. Wiebe’s writing is as sharp and raunchy as ever. The only drawback for me is Tess Fowler’s art, which I don’t like as much as the series’ original artist Roc Upchurch’s. I found it too cartoonish for my taste, but it wasn’t enough of a distraction to change my rating to anything less than five stars.

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