Issues, Envelopes and Homophobes by FeatherJunkie – review

Title: Issues, Envelopes and Homophobes
Author: FeatherJunkie
Genre: High school romance
Other Information/warnings: none
A sixteen year old boy has to write to a ‘pen pal’ in his own school as part of a school assignment. This does not amuse him.

My review:
First of all, I have to thank my friend Masha for giving me the link to this. It’s lightweight cute, funny and undemanding, but gets many bonus points for the novelty of the story telling method (a genuine epistolatory story, and well-handled), the clean writing (and decent editing too, which is very nice to see), the distinct and honest sounding voices, and for a couple of plot twists I didn’t see coming.

A thoroughly enjoyable little treat.


Collection of reviews for Velvet Mafia Issue no.1


‘Snow’ by Jameson Currier

This is a mood piece, a narrator suffering from cabin fever in a blizzard, and perhaps from a greater ennui with life. Poetic, beautiful – nothing much happens but we get an insight into the emptiness of the life of a single gay man, travelling on business.


‘Enough Oxygen’ by Marshall Moore

WARNINGS: child physical and sexual abuse, violence, mental illness. Not ‘slash’ as such, though the narrator is gay.

A difficult, painful and powerful story, about a young man pushed past his limits by a horrific home life. Not for the faint-hearted or easily upset.


‘Human again’ by Mel Smith

WARNINGS: violence
Another difficult story about two homeless men, lovers in the most difficult of circumstances. Starkly beautiful, uplifting yet sad. Again, not for the easily upset.


Photography by Jack Slomovits
WARNING: explicit photographs at this link. NOT WORK SAFE

Not a story but a gallery of homoerotic photos. Very tasteful, very nice.

There were other stories in this issue which might appeal to you – none of them were illiterate, they just weren’t my cup of tea. None of them grabbed me the way ‘Snow’ did, from the first words, but could be well worth a look.


Masks by Parhelion – review

Title: Masks
Author: Parhelion
Genre: Horror/fantasy
URL: Author’s site
Other Information/warnings: nothing explicit, except for creepy themes
Rusty’s a typical gay owner of a metahuman memorabilia store. His best friend is a superhuman who eats people’s lives. And then…things get even more complicated.

This is part of the second issue of the JACK ezine…

My review:

Wow. My best advice would be to read this and download it before some canny commercial publisher snaps it and the rest of Parhelion’s writing up, and you have to *pay* for this – because one of these days, surely, if there is a deity, you *will* have to pay for this guy”s writing. This is stunning – a funny, fast-moving, full-realised horror fantasy, told like a text comic book, with sharp dialogue, real suspense and a total lack of predictability. So far the average level of net fiction, it soars like Helios itself above the pack.

Just go bloody read it. Then tell the author what you think.


Good grief by Drew Gummerson – review

Title: Good Grief
Author: Drew Gummerson
Genre: Fantasy, sci-fi, horror

Part of issue 16 of the ‘Velvet Mafia’ ezine:

Other Information/warnings: well, in one way, it’s sick as fuck. In another, it’s funny and sad at the same time. Rude words and body parts (*lots* of body parts).

Summary (if relevant):

Everyone grieves in their own way. Some…a little more unusually than others
My review:

The narrator of ‘Good Grief’ has been denied the right to deal with his dead lover’s body in the way that he wanted. But he’s still determined to get it right.

This one takes reality and sends it out past Alpha Centuri/. It’s funny, it’s heart-breaking, and bittersweet in a way that mades you think – hard. Not a long story, but still powerful. One which will haunt me.


Heron Feathers Fiction contest entries – review

Title: Heron Feathers Fiction Contest Entry archive
Author(s): Multiple
Genres: Multiple (romance, fantasy, real world, angst – hell, just read the damn things!)
Other Information/warnings: all but the last story, Mechanics of Fucking, are pretty tame, but there is some violence, and at least one story is a death story
Ten entries were received in the Heron Feathers Fiction Competition.
Stories had to be based on or in someway inspired by the picture, ‘Heron Feathers’ by Kiriko Moth. There was a 10,000 word limit.My reviews:

Seven for a secret never to be told
by Audi

Terrence is a teenage boy, a foreigner going to an ex-pat school in London, disaffected, isolated and not enjoying life. His real love is art. That’s until he meets a Japanese boy who takes a fancy to him.

Not much to this story, and it suffers a little from an uncertain narratorial voice, some wonky English and some straightforward errors which should have been edited out. But the central imagery of the magpies is nice, and the two boys are sweet.


Always Kissing
by Nikita

Two harems boys steal away for a few moments of illicit intimacy.

This story was one of the most directly inspired by ‘Heron Feathers’, and like that picture, is lush in its imagery and description. It captures the eroticism of a quick snog with one’s boyfriend without needing to be explicit, and yet we also get enough of the back story to be intrigued. A snapshot rather than PWP. A bon-bon, not a main course, but very nice notwithstanding.


The Heron’s Feathers
by Megan Reiley

A tragic tale of love between slave boy and prince.

This one was the bleakest of the ten stories, and not surprisingly, readers seem to have gone for more cheery tales. Shame, really, because it’s beautiful in a sad way, and a fairytale with a bitter twist that really bites. It’s a well-written story I would love to see expanded, a brave idea of imagination, that took the harder path of not looking for a happy ending.


by Fancyfigures

Yet another slave boy/prince story. The slave has unusual powers, and the prince learns what a treasure he has found.

This was my own personal favourite from a strong group – though it’s not without flaws (the narrator describing his own hair colour is a pet peeve of mine). I just have this huge kink for cruel masters and put upon, badly used slaves, who somehow manage to transcend the barriers between themselves to unite and fight their enemies. It’s also romantic and not a little erotic, and the imagery is rich and interesting. Another I would like to see expanded.


Beautiful Secrets
by Cassandra Bishop

A soon to be married prince and the man who has been sent to kill him.

This is technically the weakest of the ten stories, and badly needs an editor. Still, it’s a vignette with a good central and intriguing image. Much too short and uncertainly written to be truly good, I still think the author could work on it and improve it to advantage. I hope she does.


The Same Again
by Chelsea Rye

‘His name is Daiei, and he was my enemy, because everyone said so. It became our custom, kick, punch, bite, whenever we met.’

This really is an extraordinarily imaginative work – fantasy and schoolboy romance, rolled into a vibrant whole that manages to capture the angst of otherness with the crap of being a teenage boy. Assured, strongly voiced, beautifully written, this is really publishable quality. Highly recommended.


Bright Things and Birds
by Chelanyk Rhys

Another schoolboy in love story. A young artist has a crush on his best friend, and it sucks.

This needs to be a longer story, so we can spend more time with Kingston and Jae, but the bantering and teasing and emotions are very real, and the author doesn’t overstretch her material. A good self-contained little romantic yarn, that avoids sap quite nicely.


The Sacrilege
by Quatorze

Two temple dancers in a dangerous, erotic encounter.

Another beautiful, imaginative work, strongly drawing on the imagery in ‘Heron Feathers’. Well-written, again, begging to be a longer story, but vivid and interesting, a window on a world that does not exist but might so easily. I loved the lack of sappiness, the intensity of the hate-love-whatever the fuck it is between the two main characters. Well worth a look.


Not of a feather
by Megan (Bloodrose83)

Two young men are sent out on an initiation ritual. Only one returns – or does he?

Coincidentally, this is bleak like the other story by a Megan, but with a hint of hope. Maybe. It’s a story which demands attention, deliberately dream like and confusing, and very powerful. One to make you think, ‘What if’. Another strongly imagined work.


The Mechanics of Fucking
by Manna

A private dick gets lucky.

Well this was the readers’ favourite, and it’s not hard to see why – it’s slick, it’s funny, the plot is self-contained, and it’s extremely well-written. I found it less compelling than Bonded, but that’s really like comparing two high-quality gems and deciding which is the more beautiful. I didn’t, strangely, care for the central sex scene or the ‘mechanical’ part that much – the author has set the bar for eroticism very high in her other stories, and this wasn’t up to her usual standard – but the two characters were wonderful, the plot twists kept me guessing, and once more, it was a great to play the ‘What if/what happened next?’ game with it. Another one of publishable quality, and even more extraordinary when you realise she knocked this out in twelve hours. Enough to make you hate a person, really 🙂