Apex magazine had to pause for quite a while due to serious health issues of the editor. But a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2020 funded a whole year, and issue 121 just arrived today. This is the second story from it after Alix E. Harrow’s Mr Death.
Synopsis: A mage’s familiar is very anxious about its owner, trying to awake him from a fatal daydreaming. He was cursed by one of his students who managed to learn mind control.
After some interactions over the course of several days, the mage seems to be more receptive and slowly come to his mind. But he’s far from defeating the student.
Review: The story is unconventional with a the familiar as the narrator’s perspective addressing the mage in second person. This narrative style isn’t used too often, but I’ve mostly found it interesting and engaging, bringing up a riddle: Does the author speak to the reader or do two protagonists just talk very intimately.
In this case it is both, and the author found a great solution in a story twist which was well built-up; I don’t want to explain this too detailed as it would take away the fun.
I just loved the cute familiar coming up in different forms. It’s not often that the creation and bonding of a familiar to its mage is explained.
The plot is free of action, and narrated in a calm, nearly soothing voice. I only missed a regular showdown, but then the story would have been something else.
Recommended for Fantasy readers who don’t need sword swinging or magic wielding.
Meta: Published in Apex 121.