Magick & Misery
Black Bed Sheet/Diverse Media Publications
98 pages $11.95
Review by Kent Knopp-Schwyn
A brief introduction by Timothy Deal of Shroud Publishing lets us know that while the name Lincoln Crisler may or may not be a pseudonym and his work shows skill, energy and promise at taking the reader on short, sharp rides into the dark unknown. Based on the tales in Magick & Misery, Mr. Crisler does have the skill to fulfill that promise but he needs to work on developing his own unique voice and style.
On the whole the very short, almost flash fiction pieces in Magick & Misery end up sounding and feeling very much the same. Each of the short-shorts relies strongly on the familiar twist ending or tries to throw a changeup to the reader by playing on expectation and word interpretation. Alone, each tale is well written with noticeable skill, together in a collection such as Magick & Misery, they all blend into one another; each tale very similar to the preceding and the one right after.
However, when Mr. Crisler expands his short-shorts to near novelette length, he begins to breathe life into both the characters and the storyline and he begins to show the true promise Tim Deal notes in his intro.
Of the three longer stories, “Seymour’s Descent” is the weakest being a pastiche and homage to Isaac Asimov’s Robot short stories. “The Seven O’Clock Man” succeeds on strong characterization and a somewhat ambiguous ending. Finally, the gem of this collection, “Old Stooping Lugh” succeeds as a well written story, with lively characters and a plot that draws on and relies on traditional folktales and legend.
In all, Magick and Misery has the feel of a collection showcasing an author cutting his teeth and honing his craft by employing a variety of styles and searching for his individual authorial voice. With a modest price of entry, this brief collection is entertaining ride on the dark side and a decent introduction to an author to watch for in dark anthologies and magazines.