The next magazine up for review is the July issue of Apex Magazine, which I tend to think of as speculative horror.
The first story in this issue is by A.V. Green and is entitled “The Monster Fucker Club“. And just like it sounds, it is about a group of teenage girls dealing with the challenges they face by having sex with monsters. The story explores these different challenges, including the crazy reality of having to be concerned about active shooters in school. It is an interesting idea explored well, but I felt it could have gone deeper. (My rating: 3/5)
A young woman with an invisible creature around her neck is visited by a stranger in “Dolly Girl” by Christopher Rowe. It explores the theme of self-harm in a supernatural context. It seemed to be going someplace with something to say and then just ended. (My rating: 3/5)
“Island Circus” by Amal Singh is another entry in the growing number of stories in the second person. In it, you long to run away to join the circus. What you are running away from is a boat community that is struggling to survive after climate change has caused the oceans to rise. A story about the conflict between duty and desire. (My rating: 3/5)
Relationships are hard. Abusive ones much more so. What to do when you miss your abusive partner after you part? How do you learn and grow to avoid such relationships in the future? That is what the protagonist in “But I Love You” by Sachiko Ragosta attempts to find out by buying a Just Right android made in the mold of her former lover. Fascinating but creepy exploration of troubled relationships. (My rating: 3/5)
In “The Discarded Ones“, Linda Niehoff tells the tale of ghosts who need adopting like stray dogs. These ghosts need someone to look after them until they are ready to move on. A woman sees a late night advertisement that tugs at her heartstrings. She herself is hurting and goes to the shelter to adopt. An interesting way to explore how caring for others can help us heal ourselves. (My rating: 4/5)
“The Magazine of Horror” by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki is an exchange of letters where the author is attempting to get a lucrative return on publishing a story in the titular magazine. But the potential downside of doing so could be deadly. The tension builds throughout as does the creep factor. (My rating: 4/5)
Sometimes I read a story that I just don’t connect with. “Gim of P” by Benjamin Dehaan is one such story. In it a miner notices something unusual that no one else seems to care about. The problem is, I didn’t care either. (My rating: 2/5)
In “You Me and the End” by Mona West, a twin on an airplane talks to her absent (and likely dead) twin as the pilot tries to figure out what to do after a nuclear war. There is connection and despair as well as a faint hope of celebration. A remarkable achievement in a story of only a thousand words. (My rating: 4/5)
Zombie’s like to eat brains, right? But what if you were a vegan before you became a zombie? This is the case for the protagonist of “A Young Zombie in Crisis” by Walidah Imarisha. And she doesn’t like brains and so eats the bare minimum to stay undead. How she comes to resolve this challenge is gross and funny. (My rating: 4/5)
“You Without Me” by Endira Isa Richardson is a haunting story of a mother and child told to the child (you) by the mother (I). The child is dead but still communicates with the mother. It is a dark tale that really wasn’t for me. (My rating: 2/5)
My average rating for this issue comes in at 3.2 out of 5. Not very good. This magazine tends to be hit or miss for me and not very consistent. While I have appreciated it, I am unlikely to renew my subscription at the end of the year.