Hero Lost, edited by Alex J. Cavanaugh

Hero Lost, edited by Alex J. Cavanaugh book coverGenre: Fantasy Anthology
Publisher: Freedom Fox Press
Published: 2017
Reviewer Rating: three stars
Reviewer: Michael D. Griffiths

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Hero Lost, is a Fantasy Anthology edited by Alex J. Cavanaugh. This anthology has 12 short stories which all revolve around mostly traditional fantasy themes. This book comes out of a Facebook group called the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Seven people reviewed and voted on who got to be in this anthology. I am not sure what went wrong, but the stories were not of the highest caliber. Perhaps it was a closed group thing, picking favorites, or a limited supply, but with so many superb anthologies out there, this one seemed a little lack luster to me. I will go over the stories and let you make up your own mind.

We start with Mysteries of Death and Life written by Jen Chandler. When you find Death and he is trying to die it brings up a few questions and issues. This was a stronger story and a good way to start the Anthology

I also enjoyed The Silvering by Ellen Jacobson. I liked the idea of everyone hiding their hands and hands becoming the erotic zone for people. Mysteries and plotting abound in this one nicely done tale.

Memoirs of a Forgotten Knight, by Renee Cheung comes third. I love the use of the name Cormac. Too bad his luck turns so ill. Pretty good story with a twist—High fantasy with a dragon battle, but for me the battle was too short and easy.

Roland D. Yeomans wrote Sometimes They Come Back. Very High Fantasy here. Loads of bizarre and enjoyable characters. Everything from Goddesses to talking mice get involved in this adventure. This might be a fun one for the Young Adult audience.

The Wheat Witch, by Erika Bebee did not do it for me as much. The story had a backdrop of mystery as a man in trouble returns to his home town. I had a harder time entering this world. It had a nebulous unclear quality and just did not draw me in.

Sarah Foster brought us The Last Dragon. I liked this one. We got a little more action here. Twins with magic powers who have a hero for an uncle, go to see him, because others seek to enslave them and use them for their abilities. Perhaps the slavers so be more careful in who they hunt no matter what their age.

Mind Body Soul is an interesting tale by Elizabeth Seckman. An insecure King assumes his arranged marriage never led to love and makes the choice to trade his soul with his queen’s dying teenage crush. He realizes too late she could care less about her childish crush and is madly in love with her king. Intense, but sort of annoying when the king makes such a stupid mistake.

Olga Godin brings us Captain Bulat. This was my favorite story of the bunch. This one contained action, suspense, and mystery. Altenay is a Finder and is hired by a wealthy man to track down a man who has been missing for years. Her employer gives her a dagger to help mystically track the man down. This is good because she quickly realizes she is not the only one hunting. Nice tale, I would read more by this author.

The Witch Bottle by Sean McLachlan was another story that did not move me too much. The main character is married to a witch, but is so whiny about his problems it left me voting for her.

The Art of Remaining Bitter, by Yvonne Ventresca is next. This is a Kurt Vonnegut style of story where everyone is forced to be Blissed at age ten. The issue for our young girl is that she wants to be herself with all her bitterness and not some artificially happy monkey like the rest of the world she sees.  I did enjoy this one.

Tyrean Martinson wrote Of Words and Swords. If you are a hero do you have to remain a hero? Does a person have the right to do what they choose even if they excel in another area? These are issues the dragon slayer turned poet must wrestle with when a new dragon starts to burn the city.

Last, we have Breath Between Words by L. Nahay. This is a somewhat arty tale which unfolds for the reader as a character lays dying. Between the breaths, we paint the picture of what happens around her, but soon it will make little difference. I found this a strange choice for the last story and it did not thrill me overmuch.

This is a complete and strong anthology. It was nice to see it follow a fantasy theme and not bounce all over the place. Still, with so many anthologies just power hitting it out of the park, this one fell a little short for me. It was not bad, just not great..

Skinjumpers, by Michael D. Griffiths

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