Reviewed by Chris Cartwright

I must admit that this is the first issue of Dark Animus I have ever read. And I will go on to say that I was quite impressed with it! The cover by Brian Smith is brightly colored and very interesting and the layout of the magazine is easy to follow. The artwork inside is very creative and well done. The book contains six stories and one poem, with a total of 80 pages.

We start out with the editorial by James R. Cain. He mostly talks about what is new and developing on the Dark Animus website. One thing he does point out about issue #8 is that the story The Mistress of Nettle Wine Lodge is a little more extreme than the fiction they usually publish.

Calm and Clever by Andrew Lyall

This is a story of magic. Lyall narrates the thoughts of Paul Colby, the main character, who is a magical superior being, in training. His main concern is keeping calm, which he has a tough time doing. The consequence of his actions and his ability to stay calm develops into some trying situations. I was somewhat confused about what exactly did happen to Paul's roommate Geoff. I would have liked to hear about the set of circumstances which lead up to where the story begins - Lyall was not totally clear on that fact - but all in all this is a fun read.

Artwork by Dion Hamill

This drawing by Dion is very well done and I think this artwork, more so than the story, tells of what happened to Geoff! This is where you can say, “Do I need to draw you a picture?” Great job Dion!!

Twelve O'Clock Shadow by Mike Philbin

The thing that scares me the most about this tale, is that it could actually happen! With everything that is going on with the world today, this story is not too far fetched. Philbin's main character is an everyday, well groomed, business type guy. The kind of guy that no one really notices. You know the type, he is the ordinary guy dressed in basic business attire carrying a laptop, with a blank face, no one really special. The only difference here is that this guy is far from ordinary and he demands to be noticed. This story is very well thought out and we really see into the mind of this “ordinary” guy. I think you will like this story, as disturbing as it is.

Artwork by Kathy Ferrell

Kathy created a great drawing of our ordinary guy, complete with suit and laptop, along with other happenings in a park on an ordinary day. This drawing is done very professionally and shows great detail and talent! Fantastic work Kathy!

Open Season by Tim Curran

I never did like hunters and I dislike them even more now! Geez but this is a creepy story! If you liked The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Lost, you will like this story. Curran tells about a group of men out on a hunting trip, when their truck breaks down. Curran's main character is Iverson, the guide for this expedition. Iverson leads his group of hunters through the woods, trying to keep them under control, and it is not easy as they all start acting like a bunch of scared animals...hunted. Serves them right! You will be hanging onto your seat throughout this tale.

Artwork by Brian Smith

Accompanying the story is a wonderful drawing of a skull on a stick, with an arrow through the head. The kind of stuff one might find out in the eerie part of the woods.

A very good drawing Brian!

Late Bloomer by Kristine Ong Muslim

The first two verses of this poem I followed along with ease but the last verse I had trouble with. I really couldn't grasp what had happened. But from what the first two verses had said, and from the illustration, I am sure it wasn't good.

Artwork by Ian Simmons

WOW! Now this is really very good work. The girl gazing into the glass jar is so realistic, right down to the eye, which is magnified by looking into the glass jar.

Outstanding work Ian!

The Mistress of Nettle Wine Lodge by Richard D. Moore

Now this is really a combination of erotic and very strange! I can also add that I found it to be comical, depicting the way men's minds work. I think this is a story for women to enjoy, but that is just my opinion. Moore tells about a man and his strong “urges”, and how he goes about satisfying them. He gets more than he bargained for and we get a very interesting and twisted story. I liked the way Moore described the thoughts in this man's head and how he acted on them. This is a very well told story! Bravo!

Artwork by Brian Smith

A very whimsical, dark and creepy looking drawing of men and roots. This drawing fits the story and is very well constructed. Great work Brian!

A Sweetheart Deal by J.W. Schnarr and John Sunseri

This is a story about a guy who works on dead people, what we would call a mortician. The authors tell about a miserable man called Artie, who apparently will do almost anything for a buck. He has struck a deal with an organization he thinks of as the Mafia, taking care of the dead they bring him. Eventually his little deal gets out of hand and things start happening...strange things. The authors really describe what happens in great detail in a way that gives us a mental picture of the scene. Well, I can't really say too much more about the story because it would spoil it for you. But I will say that I enjoyed the entire story and I recommend it!

Artwork by Billy Tackett

They say the eyes are the mirrors of the soul, and these eyes certainly show a morbid soul! With a bullet in the head, blood spewing out, and a tendril creeping in, this is a masterpiece! Awesome work Billy!

Sticks and Stones by Tim Johnson

This story puts me in the mind of Ents, but not the good kind. Johnson's story is about a man who uses the woods for a source of income. I don't believe the woods are too happy about it either. I really had a difficult time with this story. I found myself going back to reread paragraphs, so I could comprehend what was actually happening. The story has a good base idea to it, but it needs to be clearer about what is taking place. This is a great idea for a story and maybe you will be able to understand it better than I did.

Artwork by Regina Brewster

Regina created an excellent view of this story with a drawing of monsters made of sticks, stones, and vines, which make a person wonder if they should ever venture into the woods again. Excellent work Regina!

Dark Animus, edited by James R. Cain, PO Box 750, Katoomba, NSW 2780, Australia. A5, 84pp, $7.70AU post-paid in Australia, $5.00US + $2.50 s&h elsewhere, or $25AU/3 in Australia, $25US/3 international (post-paid). For full ordering details check website.

Website: - www.darkanimus.com

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