Cirsova #5: Winter 2020

Saturday , 23, January 2021 Leave a comment

Help Cirsova Magazine celebrate five years of thrilling adventure and daring suspense. The Anniversary issue will also feature a serialized Wild Stars novel, more Mongoose and Meerkat, more Rogues of Merth, a reprint of 1980s indie comic Badaxe, interior illustrations, and even an appearance from Touhou Project’s memetic magical cat Chen. Check out the Kickstarter for more details.


Cirsova Magazine closes out 2020 in high fashion, with seven out of the ten tales from the Winter 2020 issue selected for Tangent Online’s 2020 Recommended Reading List. And, for once in the yearly round-up season, the stories match the hype. The Winter issue focuses heavily on fantasies with Germanic, Scandinavian, and Egyptian settings, although a few original settings such as Mongoose and Meerkat appear.

“Tiger, Tiger” leads off the magazine with a sensual and seedy pre-WWII spy thriller reminiscent of John Thunstone and other Weird Tales occult detectives. The finale gave inspiration to the gorgeous cover illustration.

“Making Good” discovers the unsavory prices one must pay to control things from beyond our understanding. And some are too steep. Another German occultic tale, post WWII this time.

“Pulsa” dives straight into paternal horror, with the sins of the SS soldier father being visited on the son. The gimmick behind the Pulsa is horrifying, but becomes predictable once the mysterious curse gets figured out. And the Nazi Germany antagonist, as an idea, wore thin in a time where only Nazis can be bad guys. But the emotional shock of a father’s growing dread is worth the read.

“White Casket” pairs well with “Pulsa”, exploring a mother’s worst fears in a Finnish fairy tale forest. The dark kind that requires the sacrifice of orphans. The otherworldy setting is compelling, and the unwinding of the mystery behind the sacrifices sends shivers.

“The Murmurous Dead” is another fairy tale, this time of sand and blood as an assassin learns to connect with the lives he takes to restore the balance after each death. The murders are imaginative and indirect. The Lord of Strange Deaths would be pleased.

The Mongoose and the Meerkat return in “Hunt of the Mine Worm”, which is yet another tale of contracts gone bad in this issue of Cirsova. The story is built around a clever bit of real-world chemistry, and continues the trend of exotic settings for Kat and Mangos to explore. This story was reviewed more in-depth here.

“The Cunning of Artocris” introduces a pair of Ancient Egyptian stories. In this one, a mage trades barbs with the mummy of a Pharaoh in the hopes of gaining an immortal treasure. This is a warning tale, where pride leads to damnation. The prose and dialogue both have a high oratory feel, as though that spark of the King James has been brought to adventure.

“The Cat, the Hand, and the Plight of the Sacred Bull” is the most humorous tale in the whole issue, with a light-hearted tone over a serious question. What did the cat drag in? In Ancient Egypt, the answers may be more disturbing than one might expect.

“A Touch of the Lokiean” is a Norse occult detective mystery ending in a touch of the old sword and sorcery. A bit exposition heavy, but then, most occult detective stories have to be.

“Out Here” is a bleak survivor’s tale of abuse, escape, and revenge. Hope exists in the end, but you have to go through Hell first.

As expected, a strong lineup, with “Tiger, Tiger”, “White Casket”, “The Murmurous Dead”, and “Hunt of the Mine Worm” standing out from a stacked pack. Once again, I am appreciative of the transitions between stories, whether between settings or themes. The contrast between “Pulsa” and “White Casket”, for instance, makes for a delightful conversation, and the pairings and transitions help heighten the appreciation of the stories. Cirsova places stories like a band leader picking a song list, and the concert of thrilling adventure and daring suspense is all the better for it.

The full list of Cirsova’s Winter 2020 issue includes:

“Tiger, Tiger” by Teel James Glenn

“Making Good” by Jeff Stoner

“Pulsa” by Edward M. Erdelac

“White Casket” by Ville Meriläinen

“The Murmurous Dead” by Eric Del Carlo

“Hunt of the Mine Worm” by Jim Breyfogle

“The Cunning of Artocris” by Jeffery Scott Sims

“The Cat, the Hand, and the Plight of the Sacred Bull” by Christine Lucas

“A Touch of the Lokiean” by Rev. Joe Kelly

“Out Here” by S.H. Mansouri

(Titles in italics made Tangent Online’s 2020 Recommended Reading List.)

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