Archive | Reviews

Monica Valentinelli

Throne of the Crescent Moon Review

Posted on May 24, 2012 by

Fantasy as a genre is rife with rich worlds, dense descriptions, and complex cultures. As a reader (and a writer) I’ve always been fascinated with how other authors explore cultures within the context of the genre. Sometimes, a culture is revealed through a character’s actions or speech patterns; other times, through the way a particular town or setting is described.

In my experiences, the majority of the books I’ve read keep diverse cultures at the background of the story instead of the forefront. Intellectually, I understand why this is. Often, there’s a lot of world to explore and, in the fantasies I’ve read, that means the story matches that as well. Still, I’ve often found my reading has been bereft of the richness of contemporary stories that were firmly rooted in “a” non-European culture in “this” genre. Is that a fault of the industry? No, it just means there’s been a gap in my library that this picky reader hasn’t been able to fill since I first read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho many years ago.

[...more]

Dear Creature Graphic Novel Review

Posted on May 23, 2012 by

“Deep beneath the waves, a creature named Grue broods. He no longer wants to eat lusty beachgoers, no matter how their hormones call to him. A chorus of crabs urges him to reconsider. After all, people are delicious! But this monster has changed. Grue found Shakespeare’s plays in cola bottles and, through them, a new heart. Now he yearns to join the world above.

Rising from a brine of drive-in pulp and gentle poetry, Jonathan Case’s debut graphic novel Dear Creature is the love story you never imagined!”

How in the world did I miss this book when it came out? Inside of the covers of this book, lies a story that blew me away and artwork that melted my eyes out of their sockets. The visuals were so GORE-Geous, and they were only presented in black and white. The real kicker though was the way that Case was able to show expression through facial features and body movements.

[...more]

Investigator Weapons: Volume One (Call of Cthulhu) Review

Posted on May 22, 2012 by

When I first got this assignment, I was underwhelmed. Why on Earth would I care about guns from a century ago? I’m not the manliest guy in my gaming group. I zone out when people start talking weapons and cars. Tell me you’re shooting at the red convertible with your rifle and I’m good. I know for the Purists out there that is a lot more to it than that, but that’s your game, not mine. I’ll research a little out of love for my gamers, but I’ll be researching the occult side of the horror game quite a bit more.

I mention all of this because this book seemed to be akin to the ultra-horrible World of Darkness: Combat book or some lame D&D PDF for an arrowhead. As much as my ego forbids me to say this, I will: I was wrong about this book.

[...more]

Doctor Spektor Archives Volume 4 Review

Posted on May 21, 2012 by

“Confronting supernatural threats and vengeful monsters, Dr. Spektor travels from Scottish lochs to cursed swamplands–and from the surreal dreamscape of the Egyptian afterlife to New York City’s Chinatown! Collecting issues #19 to #25 of The Occult Files of Doctor Spektor and a Spektor tale from Gold Key Spotlight #8, plus notes from Spektor’s secret files, including a piece on Dr. Solar!”

Believe it or not review reader, I have never had a chance to check out Doctor Spektor comics before. Sure I have heard of them, but it was not until Dark Horse supplied me with this great volume that I had my first chance to really check this cast out. The artwork in this volume by Santos is fantastic. He does a great job of keeping the cast consistent from panel to panel.

[...more]
Flames

Northlands (Pathfinder) Review

Posted on May 18, 2012 by

Alright, my first real RPG book review. Bear with me folks.

Today I’ll be talking about Northlands, the Norse themed sourcebook for the northern realms of the Midgard world. From what I gather Midgard is a homebrew setting writ large. Created with help from a proto-Kickstarter system called Patronage through Kobold Quarterly, fans can chip in to the design process and get special supplements. This is one of the first books to explore outside the Free City of Zobeck that is the heart of the Midgard Campaign Setting.

Overall this was a very well put together book. The maps are good, the art is very nice black and white and the content is engaging and well designed.

[...more]

Pandemonium Graphic Novel Review

Posted on May 17, 2012 by

“In 1951, a mother and her young daughter entered one of America’s most prestigious institutions for the treatment of Tuberculosis, The Waverly Hills Sanatorium. The events that befell them shortly thereafter, both of a supernatural and criminal nature, were some of the most sordid of the times. Based on real events. A true tale of horror, literally!”

It’s always funny to me how things happen in 3?s. Take this book for example, at the time I read this, I had also just seen a movie involving an asylum and I am in the middle of reading a horror novel about one too. I think that those outside factors easily played into why this book was so great.

[...more]
Flames

Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Po’Kesteros, the Lostling RPG Review

Posted on May 15, 2012 by

Po’Kesteros, the Lostling.
This is one of the Faces of the Tarnished Souk series NPC’s for use with the Rite Publishing campaign setting/ adventure arc Coliseum Morpheuon. This is a setting of adventures and intrigues in the Plane of Dreams, where people can burn their dreams (Dreamburning) to influence fate and events. Not only can someone choose to burn a dream to control their circumstances but dreams can be stolen. On the Plane of Dreams, a dream is power. From what I can gather this high level setting, 16-20th levels, has roots in Planescape, with intrigue between factions, gladiator games, crazy occurrences, otherworldly landscapes and things unusual and odd to throw at your players.

[...more]

Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition Review

Posted on May 14, 2012 by

Many of gaming’s long-lived members began as mash-ups of other media. Dungeons & Dragons grew out of a love of Lord of the Rings, The Grey Mouser and Conan. Shadowrun mixed Gibson’s cyberpunk with classic fantasy elements. World of Darkness grew out of Anne Rice and urban fantasy media. Legend of the Five Rings combined Asian fantasy elements like samurai, shugenja and oni with western mythology like Zeus that appeals to audiences that grew up on everything from Kurosawa films to Avatar: The Last Airbender. L5R, as it’s known by its fans, released a fourth edition of RPG rules to celebrate 15 years of blood, steel and honor.

[...more]

Alabaster: Wolves #1 Review

Posted on May 9, 2012 by

“For nearly as long as she can remember, Dancy Flammarion has fought monsters, cutting a bloody swath through the demons and dark things of the world, aimed like a weapon by forces beyond her control or questioning.”

Phew! I have to admit that I originally feared this would be a book along the lines of Twilight, due to the popularity of such franchises being turned into comics. It is not though. What is presented within these pages is a story that is visually breathtaking, mentally stimulating and when combined they create one hell of a first issue. The artwork in this book did take me a little bit to adjust to, but after 5 pages I was on board. The character designs are great, and the consistency is seen from panel to panel.

[...more]
Flames

Driving Through the Desert Review

Posted on May 8, 2012 by

Perspective is the most powerful force at work in the universe. The angle, pitch and yaw of how things are viewed, how things are not seen, and how things are interpereted by the human heart and mind’s eye forges reality for an individual. Often times this reality, perceived by the individual, exists inimical to equidistant realities nurtured and sustained by other individuals-at-large.

Driving Through the Desert presents such a singular and stalwart perspective. A universally hale perspective. The reality of Driving Through the Desert as engineered and presented by the novella’s author, Donna Lynch, is shared – for the most part – by two individuals; Kam and Henry.

[...more]
Megan

Kobold Quarterly # 21 Review

Posted on May 7, 2012 by

Hmm… an Editorial on that contentious question: semi-naked female characters. Traditional game fare, perhaps, but provoking comment. Being of the female persuasion but pragmatic rather than sexist, my only complaint is that if I were participating in a fantasy adventure I’d want a decent layer of armour between me and the monsters – and that doesn’t mean hiding behind the nearest paladin! A few bare-chested blokes would be nice, to maintain balance, though.

The first article proper introduces a Shaman character class for Pathfinder. Opening with an evocative narration of a shaman performing a divination (not for the squeamish, she’s using rabbit entrails!), the class is described as very druid-like, recognising the spirit with all components of nature. They are shape-shifters and healers, whilst the most powerful can send their very essence forth from their mortal body on a spirit quest. Spell lists are limited, but unlike most divine casters a Shaman does not have to prepare but can cast any spell he knows, up to his limit, when he chooses. They have a bond with an animal spirit, which takes the form of the animal in question and acts pretty much like a companion.

[...more]

Deadlands: The Last Sons RPG Review

Posted on May 4, 2012 by

Pinnacle Entertainment brings Deadlands’ fans a monster tome (337 pages/no ads) that focuses on fleshing out Native American characters. There is also a bit of metaplot going on with Raven and his schemes. Coupled with the apparent removal of a major threat, the book has a very “new” feel to it, similar to what Shadowrun captures with its constant updating calendar.

Despite its size, the book is truly a supplement, a gorgeous supplement loaded with all the bells and whistles one expects from a corebook. The layout follows the Deadlands format by starting with fourteen pages of the Disputed Lands edition of the Tombstone Epitaph.

[...more]
Megan

The Ship of Fools (Pathfinder RPG) Review

Posted on May 1, 2012 by

Opening with a truly beautiful plan of the ship itself, and detailed background that explains how The Green Lady came to be drifting empty, Marie Celeste-style across the face of the ocean, we continue with little ado into various ways in which your characters can be enticed to explore, to risk the unknown dangers that await… Perhaps the ship they are on is sinking? Or someone aboard the ship owed one of them money? Or they heard a rumour about treasure concealed aboard? Or… maybe you have a better hook, you know what intrigues and attracts them, after all. There are even ideas to deal with the minor hindrance of the group not being at sea when you want to run the adventure!

[...more]

Machine Fiction Review

Posted on April 30, 2012 by

A young woman, Celia, undergoes a procedure to have her mental self – memories, thoughts, and her “soul” – transferred to a mechanical replica of her physical self while her body is put in stasis until a cure for her rare condition can be found. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of controversy surrounding the issue of these bodies. And her wife, Rivka, a very religious woman, chooses to leave her at the most difficult time in her life.

Pelland does an excellent job of weaving current political, religious and philosophical issues throughout the story without beating the writer over the head with the message(s). At the core, it is the story of Celia, a woman that must find her own way after the world has turned its back on her through no fault of her own.

[...more]

The Last Zombie: Neverland #1 Review

Posted on April 24, 2012 by

“Lost somewhere between Missouri and Iowa (after surviving the events of The Last Zombie: Inferno), the team stops to repair their vehicles and scavenge supplies. But they soon learn that they aren’t the only scavengers in town when a horde of ravenous, swarming rats attack the convoy!”

Chapter 3 is underway of this fantastic series from Antarctic Press. Following the events of Inferno, the team is now on the other side of the fire and exploring the terrain. Fred Perry was on the art duties for this issue and he just killed it. I absolutely love his style.

[...more]
Billzilla

Masks of Nyarlathotep Review

Posted on April 20, 2012 by

Masks of Nyarlathotep is a masterful campaign by Larry De Tillo with Lynn Willis created for the Call of Cthulhu tabletop role-playing game. In it, the investigators are drawn into a plot to throw open the gates keeping the Great Old Ones at bay, causing the earth to become a nightmare landscape of death, destruction, and mind-shattering horror. Spanning five continents, Masks is an epic adventure of mayhem and supernatural evil that will consume many game-nights of play, and is suitable even for a larger group of investigators. Available again in a revised 4th Edition, it once more rears it’s terrifying, blood-red tentacle to drive us all over the brink.

[...more]

Drop Dead Dangerous #2 Review

Posted on April 19, 2012 by

“Jack and Alice find themselves at an impasse when their client is found dead and their own personal demons start to emerge. The Raven continues his prowl and ominous signs accompany his return. Meanwhile, new players reveal themselves and war breaks out in the unsuspecting town.”

My 2011 pick for the Best Book You Never Heard of is back and it is bringing all the serial killing goodness back with it! While this issue seems to build more on the back story, which is what a second issue should do, it is still an awesome read.

[...more]

FAME Stephen King Comic Review

Posted on April 16, 2012 by

Story: This well-drawn and well-written comic tells a condensed version of the life and rise to fame of one of the world’s best writers. Like other comics by the same company, they worked with the author to tell this story. It includes his life with his mother and brother, after his father left them. The situations that sparked his interest in the macabre. His life at college and his love for his family. His battle with drugs and depression and, of course, the terrible accident that almost cost him his life.

Shockers: While many fans of Stephen king are familiar with the details of important moments in his life, it is something of a shock to the system to see his accident in such visual detail. The artist did a great job bringing the pain and the gruesome reality of the situation to the forefront.

[...more]
Flames

Fantastic Stories of the Imagination Review

Posted on April 13, 2012 by

Fantastic Stories of the Imagination is Warren Lapine’s new anthology, taking an SF magazine sensibility into the anthology market. He brings 14 very diverse stories by a wide range of authors from great masters such as Mike Resnick and Harlan Elision to more recent discoveries (at least to me) Fans of the Liaden universe will be glad to see a Sharon Lee and Steve Miller story.

The tales go from pure science fiction through to urban fantasy. There is no theme to the anthology though many of the stories deal with the intersection between man and machine and the question of where one leaves off. Most of the stories deal with ethical and moral issues characters face, about when to intervene in someone else’s life or situation. Love is encountered, succeeds, disappoints, fails and rises from the ashes as we learn to cope, to hold and to release.

[...more]
Megan

Servants of Gaius RPG Review

Posted on April 10, 2012 by

The Introduction recounts some of the inspirations for this game, the chief being Robert Graves’s I, Claudius and Claudius the God novels, brought to the TV as a mini-series 35 years ago… just when I was taking a classical literature course in high school and discovering the pleasures of Roman history! Based in an alterate history world, this game aims to recreate the intrigue, adventure and mystery of the Roman Empire in its heyday, a heady mix to explore.

Chapter 1: Servants of Gaius goes into more detail of what the game entails. Set in Rome, the core concept is that something threatens the well-being of the Empire and of Caligula the Emperor, and the characters are tasked to deal with it… once they have discovered what it is!

[...more]

11 Tales of Ghostly Horror

    Monthly Newsletter Sign Up

    join our monthly mailing list
    * indicates required

    The Devil’s Night WoD SAS

    Free Devil's Night | White Wolf

    Become a Fan on Facebook!

    Reviews Wanted!

    The new Review Guidelines have been posted on the Flames Rising website. We are currently seeking a few good reviewers to help us expand our collection of horror and dark fantasy reviews. RPGs, fiction, movies, video games and more are all welcome on the site...

    What do you get out of it?

    Beyond helping out fellow Flames Rising readers by letting them know what you think of these products, we're giving away some pretty cool stuff. Regular Reviewers can earn free products to review, which is their to keep after the review is submitted to the site.

    Note: We are especially looking for folks interested in reviewing eBooks (both Fiction & Comics). We have lots of great titles in digital format and even get advance copies sometimes.

    Use the Contact Page to submit reviews or let us know if you have any questions.