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magic

Review: 'Capricious: A Texan Tale of Love and Magic', by Julie Cox

Your rating: None Average: 2.3 (4 votes)

Book cover with a satyr-like silhouetteHere's a book that you might not immediately think of as furry. Capricious: A Texan Tale of Love and Magic, by Julie Cox.

At first, the book cover resembles the Kokopelli rock-drawing designs from the American Southwest. But if you look closely, you'll note that there are hooves and horns and, by gosh, that's furry enough for me!

Luke loves two things: his land and Sally. He pours a lot of magic and effort into one of them. The other he pretends to just like as a friend. Nobody is fooled except Luke.

Circlet Press, June 2014, 305 pages, ebook $6.99, paperback $14.95 (US). An audio version can be heard on the Nobilis Erotica podcast.

Review: 'Corpus Lupus', by John K. Smith

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (3 votes)

30300363.jpgThis book is actually a collection of three novellas about your worst nightmare: A WEREWOLF WITH A BADGE.

OK, I know for some of you (me included), the image that first comes to mind might be more erotic than horrific... but I assure you that your ride along is going to take you into some deeply, darkly, disturbing places.

Highridge is a cop that became a werewolf in an Urban Fantasy Setting where lycanthropes have a subculture and are an accepted part of modern society. And the revelation of their existence is no recent thing.

As is often the case when the werewolves are (mostly) good guys, there are worse things out there than wolfmen.

Legion Printing and Publishing, 2010, ebook $2.66 (194 pages).

Furry webcomic 'At Arm's Length' seeks Patreon supporters

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

At Arm's Length: ReeceA month shy of its sixth anniversary, long-running webcomic At Arm's Length is actively moving to acquire support, in the form of a Patreon campaign.

Written by DarkWingDude (aka Equestrian Horse Wrangler) and drawn by Brooke Scovil, At Arm's Length focuses primarily on three women who are emigrants from a hidden society of four-armed magical beings. Our heroines, Ally (rabbit; specializes in illusions) Sheila (kangaroo; the most direct, forthright member of the trio) and Reece (fox; psychic and generally peculiar) appreciate the mortal world to the point where they put the smackdown on magical threats that mundane authorities simply cannot handle.

Those who choose to support the strip via Patreon can gain access to web badges and wallpapers available nowhere else, and can even introduce new characters with speaking parts.

Review: 'Striking the Root', by Kris Schnee

Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (5 votes)

Striking The Root You cannot always judge whether a novel will be good or bad by its first line, but I’ve found that a story with a good first line rarely turns out to be bad. The first line of Striking the Root is, “Rowan hung upside-down from a branch and drew emerald knots in the air, hoping to please the Lord.” Yep, that’s a grabber. And Striking the Root just keeps getting better.

In an apparent dungeons-&-dragonish magical world, young Rowan Janiceson is an “awakened” gray squirrel in a joint civilization of humans and squirrelfolk. The world was originally inhabited by just humans; but several centuries ago, the human wizard Lord Veles, Great Lord of the Forest, planted the seed that grew into the massive Great Oak and awakened the first squirrels in size and intelligence. Since then, Veles has mostly withdrawn to let the squirrelfolk run their own civilization under their own Council in what has become the squirrel nation of Great Oak. Many squirrels have left Great Oak to settle among the human city-states.

Rowan is one of the squirrelfolk who worship Veles as the god of the squirrelfolk, and he is unhappy that more and more squirrels are drifting away from the True Faith, calling Veles by the disrespectful name of “Greenie” and considering him as just a human wizard, not a god. When the Council of Great Oak intends to send a representative into human lands on a trade mission, Veles arranges for Rowan to become that messenger. Rowan is both scared to venture from the squirrel nation into the human world, and proud to be the ambassador of the squirrel’s True Faith.

CreateSpace, Dec. 2012, trade paperback $7.49 ([2 +] 199 pages), Kindle $2.99. Map by Virmir.

Review: 'Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit! A Puzzling Novel', by C. Casey Gardiner

Your rating: None Average: 4 (4 votes)

Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit! This brick of a novel – 4¼” wide x 6 7/8” high x 2” thick – says on its cover that it is “metafiction”. That is apparently a synonym for bizarre. Gardiner has made it as bizarre as he could. For starters, the cover (I assume that Gardiner did it himself) appears to be from a very shabby, used copy, with several crease lines. But they are drawn into the new cover art; they are part of its design. The colophon says that this book is “written, designed, and illustrated by C. Casey Gardiner”, but his idea of illustrations are the graphics that appear frequently, rather than pictures.

This novel was successfully funded on Kickstarter during August-October 2012. Gardiner says, “There are many pictures, riddles, poems, songs and puzzles in its pages,” among more surrealistic statements such as, “It is not ergodic literature, nor is it transgressive.” (This is not the first printing; it is the ?st printing.)

The bottom line: will you enjoy Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit!? Yes. It is very well written, and bizarre in a good way, although you will have to work at getting it. Gardiner deliberately does not make it easy.

Detroit, MI, Blue Rabbit Fictions, July 2013, paperback $20 (752 [+ 22] pgs.). Illustrated by the author.

That New Rabbit is Strange…

Cantrip The Magic Rabbit is an on-line “anthropomorphic comedy” black & white comic created by “the popular Furrlough duo of Shon Howell and Phil Gibson” (according to the publishers). Here’s the description: “Strange things are happening in Templarsville, Oklahoma. The students at Julius Schwartz Memorial High are abuzz about the new girl, Candice Tripp. They say there’s something unusual about her, possibly unnatural. Of course, the fact that she was discovered in an abandoned house outside of town with complete amnesia lends itself well to these types of fanciful imagination. With her new friends, Candice will learn what it’s like to live in a normal town, until her very un-normal past comes back to haunt her!” Now Radio Comix are releasing the collected Cantrip The Magic Rabbit as a softcover graphic novel next month. You can find out more about it at Second Ed.


image c. 2013 Radio Comix

'The Night of the Rabbit' to be released on May 29

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

The Night of the Rabbit box artThe Night of the Rabbit, an upcoming release by German game developer Daedalic Entertainment, tells the story of Jerry Hazelnut, a twelve-year-old boy who dreams of becoming a wizard.

As his summer vacation winds down, Jerry meets the Marquis de Hoto, a magical anthropomorphic rabbit in a snappy suit. He offers to take Jerry on as an apprentice and to teach him the ways of the Treewalkers, who use a special type of magic to conjure up portals and travel between worlds. As a demonstration, de Hoto leads his apprentice through a tree portal into Mousewood, a peaceful world inhabited by anthro mice, squirrels, and other critters, which acts as a hub to reach further worlds.

Review: 'The Cats of Tanglewood Forest', by Charles de Lint & Charles Vess

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)
The Cats of Tanglewood Forest
Boston & NYC, Little, Brown & Co., March 2013 Hardcover $17.99 ([6 +] 285 [+ 7] pages)
Kindle $8.89. Illustrated by Charles Vess.

The age rating on this is “8 and up”. This is one of those “all ages” books like The Wind in the Willows that you will not want to miss just because it may be in the children’s section of your bookshop or public library. Seek it out! It is worth it.

Lillian Kindred is a little girl whose parents are dead and who lives with her Aunt on a farm at the edge of Tanglewood Forest. The book doesn’t say how old she is, so that’s probably not important. What is important is that she’s established as old enough to be allowed by other people to play in the forest alone, and young enough to look for fairies. One of the things that she sees is lots of cats wandering freely – feral cats and farm cats. She does not bother them, but she does put out dishes of fresh milk for them.

One day she falls asleep in the forest, and is bitten by a venomous snake. Vess’ illustration shows a coral snake; the worst kind. Wikipedia says that, “Coral snakes have a powerful neurotoxin that paralyzes the breathing muscles; mechanical or artificial respiration, along with large doses of antivenom, are often required to save a victim's life.” Lillian does not have any of that. She is alone at the foot of a tree, dying.

Review: 'Carbonel, The King of the Cats', 'The Kingdom of Carbonel', and 'Carbonel and Calidor', by Barbara Sleigh

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

I usually select the books that I review on my own initiative, but this review of the Carbonel novels was suggested/inspired by Rakuen Growlithe. He asked, in a comment to my review of Windrusher and the Trail of Fire:

There were two cat books I read as a kid and found really good but I don't recall ever seeing someone in the fandom mention them, which I find a bit sad. Did you ever read either Carbonel or The Kingdom of Carbonel? They were about Carbonel, the king of the cats, his service to a witch, relationship with two children and, in the sequel, his kittens and authority?

Carbonel, the King of the CatsThe Kingdom of CarbonelCarbonel and Calidor

I had read them over fifty years ago and remembered enjoying them. On investigating, I found that there was a third Carbonel novel that I had not known about; and that, after being out of print for decades, all three have been reprinted recently and are again available. Fortunately, the Los Angeles Public Library and the County of Los Angeles Public Library between them have all three, so I did not have to buy copies.

I have enjoyed rereading the first two, and reading the third for the first time, very much. Thank you, Rakuen, for reminding me of them. (By the way, do you remember whether you read the British edition, the American edition, or was there a separate South African edition?)

Review: The 'Tales of the Frog Princess' series, by E. D. Baker

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

The Frog PrincessTechnically, “fractured fairy tales” is a TV cartoon series by Jay Ward, originally part of Ward’s Rocky and His Friends from 1959 to 1961; but it has become a popular generic term for any modernized, satirical story in a traditional European fairy tale setting. This certainly fits Elizabeth D. Baker’s Tales of the Frog Princess novels. Although published for the 10- to 14-year-old age group, they are witty enough that adults will enjoy them, and they contain enough talking animals and humans transformed into animals to please the average ‘morph fan.

The narrator, Emeralda (Emma), is a tomboyish 14-year-old princess of the stereotypical fairytale Kingdom of Greater Greensward. The kingdom is supposed to be protected from conquest by a princess who becomes a kindly, guardian Green Witch in each generation. Unfortunately, a fairy’s curse has turned any princess who touches a flower after she turns sixteen into an ugly, nasty hag, which disqualifies the Green Witches. When Emma’s grandmother, Queen Olivene, fell under the curse, she turned her daughter Grassina’s fiancée Haywood into a frog (they think). Emma is despondently sure that she is too inept to ever become her generation’s Green Witch. Also, her mother, Queen Chartreuse, is trying to marry her off to handsome but unlikable Prince Jorge.

Review: 'Archival: Most Secret', by Rob S. Rice

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

Archival: Most SecretThe back-cover blurb for Archival: Most Secret is accurate but misleading.

Join the heir to a faerie legacy and his bloody companion on a journey that ends before the very ramparts of New Orleans and in the smoke of a terrifying battle. What was the secret Winston Churchill’s valet sought to share with his employer from beyond the grave? Meet Flight Lieutenant Neville ‘Bunny’ Edwards, who in the course of the Second World War loses his humanity, but never his courage or his determination to stay in the fighting.

This makes the book sound like a collection of three stories that are each about a man transformed into an animal. Instead, men are transformed into animals in wholesale lots.

In these three stories, in the form of letters, diaries, journal entries, and interviews covering the years 1805-14, 1894, and 1941, magic is so prevalent that a secret Ministry of the British government has to be formed to practice and combat it.

Denver, CO, Esterhazy Press/Raleigh, NC, Lulu.com, July 2007, trade paperback $14.95 (iv + 185 [+ 1] pages). Illustrated by Donna Barr.

Review: 'The Species of Blessing Avenue', by Graveyard Greg

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

The Species of Blessing AvenueThe Species of Blessing Avenue consists of three short stories: “The Species of Alone” and “The Species of Rivals”, published by Smashwords in June and October 2010, and “The Species of Triumph”, published here for the first time. All three feature Israel Kevinson, a hunky and gay teenager who lives on Blessing Avenue.

From the start, you couldn’t tell that this was anthro fiction. And it isn’t, exactly.

Sometimes I get philosophical when I’m dealing with the jocks, especially when I’m holding one of them by the ankles, suspending them over the toilet. This is what my dad calls a ‘swirly’, but seeing as how he’s old I can’t hold it against him for knowing such a corny name. Anyway, the reason for my getting all Socrates-like is this: a bully is someone who preys on those who are weaker, right? Well seeing as how I’m preying on the bullies who think they can pick on my friends, does that make me a bully? I don’t think so, and neither do my friends. Maybe I’ll take a class on it when I go to college because questions like that make me think. (p. 3)

There are references to Izzy’s mothers blonde hair, and to bodybuilding and martial-arts videos with Arnold and Jet Li. It’s not until p. 17 that Izzy turns into a lion – he’s a werelion!

Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, May 2012, trade paperback $9.95 (78 [+ 1] pages)

Review: 'Spur', by Phil Geusz

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

SpurIt is not easy to tell the setting of Spur at first. It seems to be our world, but Merle Castison, the first-person narrator, is a talking Andalusian stallion which nobody seems to consider strange. Disreputable, maybe, but not strange. Merle has agreed to accept the curse to be turned into a horse of rich industrialist Arthur Beckmann, for $10,000 a month, upkeep in a palatial stable with phone, TV, and computer on Beckmann’s luxurious horse-farm, his oldest and best friend Cole as his personal groom, a customized spell to allow him to keep human vision and speech, and frequent visits from his human RPG-playing friends.

Merle’s workaholic father disowns him for choosing Easy Money over Hard Work, but Merle doesn’t see what’s wrong with taking advantage of a cushy offer that is honest, although he privately agrees with his father that he has not accomplished anything notable in his thirty-eight-year life. Nobody would want to become a horse permanently, but this is just until Beckmann dies; then Merle will revert to human with all the $10,000 monthly payments he’s saved.

Except that Beckmann dies and Merle stays a horse.

Melange Books, May 2012, trade paperback $14.95 (209 pages; Amazon), PDF or HTML $5.99.

Review: 'The Man With Two Shadows', by Tristan Black Wolf

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (3 votes)

The Man With Two Shadows; cover by Selina VannTristan Black Wolf, a resident of Syracuse, NY, is a member of the Furry Writers’ Guild and of North American Fur, and has stories in both volumes to date of Allasso, the “publication dedicated to finding new experiences within anthropomorphic writing and art.” The Man With Two Shadows is his first novel.

Jeremiah Pym is a modern private investigator, not the stereotypical hard-boiled, trench-coated PI of fiction. He has a modern office and undertakes typical p.i. tasks, such as getting evidence on unfaithful spouses.

There are days when being a private investigator can feel a little awkward. When a woman comes to you, convinced that her husband is throwing away money on some other woman, you expect her to refer to the other woman as a ‘bitch.’ What would make this interview particularly interesting is that the bitch in question happened to be a greyhound. (p. 1)

Mrs. Lindenbaum is so happy that her husband has been spending his money on dog-racing gambling instead of a floozy that she pays Pym’s bill cheerfully. Pym’s next client is another matter, and where things start to become a little strange.

AuthorHouse, March 2012, trade paperback $19.95 (viii + 244 [+ 2] pages; on Amazon).

Review: 'Descent', by Phil Geusz

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

Descent; cover by RukisDescent seems to be barely anthropomorphic: a novel with only one Furry main character, the narrator. Yet this is a novel that any fan of Furry fantasy should enjoy reading.

The setting is our world, yet a magical one. Gregory Lombard is first seen caught in a traffic jam.

I hate driving rental cars. […] Grinding my teeth in frustration, I carefully depressed the clutch (carefully, because the pedals had been designed for feet far smaller than mine) as traffic once more slowed and stopped. […] Then the inevitable happened. A child riding in the van I was trapped behind noticed me and pointed. Soon an entire pack of five and six year-olds had their faces jammed up against the rear windows. I waved back, my newly-altered hands still feeling odd to me. I always tried to make time for kids, even on bad days. […] Because I knew that the moment I let my mind wander, I’d start thinking about the fingers I’d lost forever earlier in the afternoon. (pgs. 4-7)

There is powerful magic in this world, and Greg Lombard has been cursed by it.

Where this morning I’d been the proud owner of two furry but otherwise human-looking hands, I now possessed a matching pair of rather pawlike mitten-thingies. (p. 7)

Birmingham, AL, Legion Publishing, August 2010, hardcover $18.99, trade paperback $9.99 (both 390 pages, $5 shipping & handling), Kindle $8.99.