With our esteemed reviewer Chris le Galle away for some weeks; I was honored to be able to review Kzine Issue 4 this month. For those of you who are still unfamiliar with Kzine, it is a digital magazine published three times a year and within its pages, it collects a variety of short stories with different themes spanning from crime, horror, sci-fi, supernatural and more. I was surprised that I found myself liking its digital format and even though I am not a fan of short stories; most of the ones found in Kzine Issue 4 are not only enticing but they make you grip your chair and ask for more.

The cover of Kzine Issue 4 was designed by one of the Malta Comic Con 2010 edition guests, Dave Windett. Strikingly haunting, the vampire theme gracing the cover is ideal for the month of October and this issue is worth reading during a Halloween week.

Now following is a review of Issue 4 of Kzine Magazine.

Kzine Magazine Issue 4

Cover: Dave Windett

Editorial: Graeme Hurry

BRAIN-BUDDY by Shane M. Gavin
SHEEP by Steve Jordan
RED INK by Joyce Carpenter
COYOTES by Jamie Mason
THE SLEEPERS by Ciro Faienza
WEIGHT by Elizabeth Hersh
…OH MY! by Rhonda Parrish

The first story, MINUS FIFTEEN, was an amazing piece of prose to open this issue. Concise, direct with enough deceptions to put your in the picture whilst not distracting you from a plot; Holly Day managed to give us the perfect Winter setting during a post-apocalyptic zombie infested world. What I loved about this story is that contrary to the current trend of zombies, this survival story is more positive, more down-to-earth, more genuine. Whilst everyone imagines that survival is all about running about and escaping zombie hordes; because that is what the popular media is currently feeding us; Holly Day shows us an alternative and MINUS FIFTEEN is a breath of fresh air amongst the zombie literature out there.

BRAIN-BUDDY had a strange feel to it. Shane M. Gavin’s story embraces the sci-fi theme with not only a futuristic feel such as the story THE SLEEPERS by Ciro Faienza but in a more abstract way. Both these stories also sharing the theme of high technological advancements have a totally different vibe.

With a noire-ambiance, for the traditional readers, RED INK is your piece of cake. Joyce Carpenter provides you a thrilling mystery-crime story that is reminiscing of an L.A. Noire feel. A death, a distressed damsel, and an affaire; all elements are intertwined together to provide a compelling story with a very interesting and surprising ending that is rather difficult even for the astute readers to foresee.

Whilst enjoy the rest of the stories on varies levels, my outmost favourite was COYOTES by Jamie Mason. This story was also the inspiration behind the cover of this edition of Kzine Magazine, because it includes blood-thirsty vampires, werewolves, humans and last but not least: Coyotes. Mason manages to create a new species in the dark fantasy world without it being over the top. The desert setting, the Mexican refugees, the desolation gnawing within the passages gives the reader a clear ambience of where the Coyotes live and breed. Apart from learning about this species, the reader is transported into the dynamics of this society and is aware of the tricky balance that keeps everything together, all the four groups living within the area in a natural and vice-ridden environment. Apart from containing such fantasy notions, this story does not portray any romantic ideas about the supernatural. A reminder of the anime and manga ‘Wolf’s Rain’; the Coyotes’ story has also a morality issue going on, with group dynamics and power playing an important role. With the quote “We care. Because somebody has to.” Jamie Mason’s story gives you food for thought without being overbearing to the casual reader.

As my friend Chris exclaimed in his review of Kzine Issue 3, the editor Graeme deserves a cheer for editing such a compelling magazine and for bringing together such talented writers into one issue. With Kzine reaching its 4th issue, I look forward to putting my hands on (digitally of course) on issue 5 very soon.

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