REVIEW: “What the Dead Are For” by Terry Grimwood

Review of Terry Grimwood’s, “What the Dead Are For”, The Future Fire Volume 2, 2005: Read online. Reviewed by Elliott Baye.

In “What the Dead Are For”, when someone dies they wake up in a mysterious graveyard, and there are two paths to consider. They could head to the forest and river to rest, or they can make the climb up the looming hill freckled with gravestones. Pastor Bob Williamson, as a man of strong Christian faith, believes that heaven is surely earned by climbing the hill, and thus tries to make his ascent.

This is a really interesting piece. It takes a proud, devout character and challenges him physically and mentally, making him rely on his own choices rather than a prewritten scripture. His ideas and morals began to conflict, and doing good became a different concept than doing “the right thing”.

Religion can be quite tricky to write about, since a lot of people can become defensive when their faith is questioned. I’m not as passionate about my religion as a great many of people, but I still think that Terry Grimwood did a pretty good job of not stepping on toes and more than necessary to tell the story. The story, to me, didn’t feel pro- or anti-religion. It was more of a “what if” scenario, and I found it fascinating.

I enjoyed the way the story ended, as it concluded Pastor Bob’s story, but I have a suspicion it will frustrate certain readers that like definitive answers to all the questions. Still, I recommend this to readers that like to wonder about life after death, as I do. Just read it with an open mind, and I think you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised.

REVIEW: “The Wolf Behind the Sun” by Johann Carlisle

Review of Johann Carlisle’s, “The Wolf Behind the Sun”, The Future Fire Volume 1, 2005: Read online. Reviewed by Elliott Baye.

In this story, two camps of opposing armies are ravaged by unexpected violence when a sorcerer hunts and enchants a wolf. There’s a lot to this story, and it remains ambitious right up until the very end. Unfortunately, shifting between four perspectives is a bit too ambitious in a story this short, and I had to reread some of the passages to fully understand what was going on. It’s clear the author had a very visual and thought-out idea for this work, but by trying to include so much detail, it was a bit overwhelming.

Despite that, the writing itself was quite vivid. The wolf’s bloodlust, and the humans’ as well, was encapsulated by the gory descriptions. Though it switched too often for my personal taste, each perspective’s tone shifted appropriately. The pride of the wolf, the cockiness of the young spy, the determination of the enemy, and the destructive nature of the werewolf all felt real, and kept me on my toes. It was clear anyone was capable of anything, and I was never sure what to expect next.

Unfortunately, the descriptive nature of this story made me a little uncomfortable when the sorcerer “enchanted” the wolf. Mainly because it was sexual in nature. Upon rereading, it does suit the story, but it was definitely a shock when I first read the tale. I have to caution anyone who reads this one: if sexual content bothers you, tread carefully. Actually, the same goes for violence and gore.

I do recommend this story to those who love dark werewolf myths, worldbuilding, and characters getting their just desserts. The writing itself is worth the read; I just can’t recommend this one to the more sensitive readers.