Next Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Previous Author: Sara Douglass

Amanda Downum

Amanda DownumAmanda Downum graduated from the University of North Texas with a BA in English Literature, a minor in German, and a Technical Writing certification. She married a technical boy, and runs a housing project for fat and bitchy cats, and one rambunctious puppy. She lives near Austin in a house with a spooky attic, and is currently a bookstore minion while writing and beast-herding full time. Learn more at Amanda Downum’s website.


The Drowning City: Filled with dark and scary places

The Drowning City by Amanda Downum

Orbit Books sent me The Drowning City and I wasn’t sure it would work for me. The cover is awesome and the back-cover blurb is intriguing, but for some reason, I just got the feeling it was a story aimed more toward a female readership.

Before I even got to the map, though, I was impressed by Amanda Downum's choice of opening quotes. The first quote is from Emily Dickinson, which would have been impressive even by itself, but then just below that is a line from one of my all-time favorite bands, Rage Against the Machine. I said to myself, “Oh, Hells yeah!!” Any author who has the cojones to quote Rage Against the Machine has my complete attention and utmost... Read More

Dreams of Shreds and Tatters: Gradually, my suspension of disbelief eroded away

Dreams of Shreds and Tatters by Amanda Downum

I’m giving this book a lower rating than I expected to. Usually a 2.5-star rating from me means I found serious structural, character or writing problems with the book, and that’s not the case here. My low rating of Amanda Downum’s Dreams of Shreds and Tatters reflects the gap between my expectations and my experience. The writer did do a few things that jarred me out of the book, though, and I am going to discuss those.

First of all, I’d like to talk about what I liked. I loved the idea here, of a group of artists under the sway of a magician, searching for a portal to a mysterious city in another realm. I liked moments in the writing; when she wants to, Downum can unleash a passage of weird, lush prose that is captivating and beautiful. For the most part, I like... Read More

SHORTS: McDonald, Marzioli, Downum, McGuire, Headley, Castro, Anders, Porter

Special Halloween issue of SHORTS: This week all of the stories reviewed in SHORTS feature zombies, haunted houses, vampires, intelligent rats, and various other types of creepiness and spookiness. Enjoy! 

The Modern Ladies’ Letter-Writer by Sandra McDonald (March 2016, free at Nightmare, Kindle magazine issue)
There are customary ways to begin a letter and end it, to address the envelope and set it to post. We have delivered to you (while you slept so prettily, your pale face a serene oval in the moonlight) this polite and improving manual of letters for the Fair Sex. We know you will be grateful.
The Modern Ladies’ Letter-Writer is, appropriately, written in... Read More

Magic City: Recent Spells: A solid urban fantasy anthology

Magic City: Recent Spells edited by Paula Guran

Things you should know:
1. This is a reprint anthology. If you read a lot of anthologies in the field, you will probably have read some of these before. I had read three, though two of them were among the best ones, and I enjoyed reading them again.
2. It still has some worthwhile stuff in it, especially if you're a fan of the big names in urban fantasy (Jim Butcher, Carrie Vaughn, Patricia Briggs) and haven't read these stories before.
3. It isn't just "urban fantasy" by the usual definition (our contemporary world plus the supernatural). There's a sword-and-sorcery story from Scott Lynch, an... Read More