Portals of Terror
Eric S. Brown and Angeline Hawkes-Craig

By Alyce Wilson

Portals of Terror, a collection of short fantasy, science fiction and horror tales, explores the darker side of some favorite genres. Many of these tales combine genres in an interesting way, for example, through assuming a different perspective of the monster, or combining genres, such as science fiction and horror.

Angeline writes what could be termed fantasy/horror along with some dark traditional fiction. Her story, "The Blue Stone Circle," is told from the point-of-view of an evil witch as she goes on an epic journey to secure a book that will unleash an ancient power. Her "Carnival" resembles a Twilight Zone episode, where a cocky young man seeks an exotic adventure and gets more than he bargained for.

She also writes an interesting alternative version of British history, with "Henry's Daughters," which re-imagines Queen Elizabeth I's fate when she was locked in the Tower of London.

Of course, self-professed zombie-phile Eric makes room for several zombie-centered tales, including "Love Pains," which is a vampire story that reads like a zombie story. Vampire fans will also appreciate Angeline's "New World Order," about an Orwellian world run by vampires.

One of Eric's best stories in the collection, "The Metal Man," has the folksy feel of a Mark Twain story. It tells the tale of what happens when a professor builds a metal man and challenges people to fight it.

Angeline's most haunting story has to be "Oubliee [Forgotten]", a tragic romance about the young wife of a cruel duke who unwisely engages in an affair with a knight, only to suffer his vicious vengeance.

Equally accomplished at dark humor, Angeline offers several stories in that category, including "That Damn Dog," about a hunter who gets his karmic comeuppance for his hatred of an ineffective hunting dog. She also penned "Unfinished Business," an alternate history about Lincoln's death.

Overall, this varied collection offers a rich selection that any lover of science fiction, fantasy and horror should enjoy.

Rating: **** (Excellent)

PublishAmerica, 2004: ISBN 141374298X