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Books for Review should be sent to: Don D'Ammassa, 323 Dodge Street, East Providence, RI 02914

 LAST UPDATE  8/11/22

Strange Mission by Howard Browne, Armchair, 2022  (originally published in 1944) 

Aka The Strange Mission of Arthur Pendran. This is an amusing fantasy novella about a man who is brought back through time by Merlin the Magician. His fate is to find the Holy Grail in order to secure Arthurís legacy, but to do so he has to overcome a variety of mildly interesting villains because the search must take place in Nazi occupied Europe. A spy story with fantastic overtones. The Nazis are caricatures of course since this was written in the middle of World War II. Browne was not a bad writer but rarely attempted anything ambitious in nature.  8/11/22

The Curse of the Coral Bride by Brian Stableford, Borgo, 2004

This is an attempt to write a fantasy in the style of Jack Vanceís Dying Earth series. I donít think it succeeds in that, although it is a pretty good novel in its own right. The sun is dying and Earth is home to primitive empires and scattered smaller states. A young man whose destiny is greater than he imagines is diving in a dangerous area when he has an encounter with a mysterious entity that alters the course of his life. Elsewhere a magician continues his efforts to cheat death, hoping to last long enough to see the end of the world. The story is inventive and sufficiently out of the ordinary to hold the readerís attention. Iím surprised that this did not get picked up by a major publisher. 8/8/22

The Devil Downstairs by P.F. Costello, Armchair, 2022 (originally published in 1958)  w3214 

Costello was a house pseudonym and I donít believe this particular story has ever been attributed to its real author. The story is a humorous fantasy about a family who finds the devil in their basement. Heís small and green and not very powerful, so they chain him up. As a consequence, the world starts to become a better place. But the devil transfers his personality into the body of a mouse and escapes, and then begins trying to track down the now fugitive family in order to exact revenge for their mistreatment of him. Not very funny. Not very good. I wouldn't put it in my resume. 7/30/22

The Model by Robert Aickman, Arbor House, 1987  

A novella set in Russia, with minimal fantastic content. A young woman is determined to become a ballerina and builds a dollhouse sized opera building during her childhood. When her father decides to marry her off for business reasons, she runs off to the city and joins an opera group. The fantasy is mostly about some of the people she meets, who may or may not be human. The prose is excellent but there was not much tension in the story.  7/13/22

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