Book Review: The Best of Apex Magazine, Volume 1 edited by Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner

Bex's Book Reviews: insights from a book-a-day addict

Apex Book Company: Probing Your Imagination Since 2005!The next stop I get the honor of guiding you to on the Apex Back Catalog Blog Tour is The Best of Apex Magazine: Volume 1. This collection, like Do Not Go Quietly that I reviewed previously, has been edited by the Apex leaders of Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner. 

Back Catalog Blog Tour: The Best of Apex Magazine, Volume 1

Cover of The Best of Apex Magazine Vol. 1As long as you like dark speculative fiction, you’re going to like this collection. Like me, you’ll probably love some more than others, but I expect you’ll respect the writing quality and power of every single piece. I certainly do. If anything about the collection disappoints me, it’s the knowledge that Apex Magazine is no more. But that doesn’t take away from the amazing stories in here.

If I had a do-over first read, I’d change my reading style. I’m a book devourer. I generally sit down and devour entire books in a sitting–on bad days I eat multiple books. But a collection like this is more suited to snacking: to reading a single story at a time then taking time to savor the flavors. Let the seeds the words sow in your soul sprout and mature and bloom before you move onto the next one.

Since my reading style isn’t conducive to picking favorites, let me instead highlight a few selections to help show the variety within the collection.

  • “Advertising at the End of the World” by Keffy R.M. Kehrli. A nearer future dystopian sci fi piece in which advertisements become the nearest contact of a woman alone in an isolated cabin.
  • “Remembery Day” by Sarah Pinsker. Memorial Day takes on a new meaning in a world where soldiers are kept from remembering their roles except for one day.
  • “Blood on Beacon Hill” by Russell Nichols. A boy who became a vampire in his teens stands trial for raping a child.
  • “Pocosin” by Ursula Vernon. An old time folklore-feel of a witch who would rather be left alone. But she has to step up when a dying god appears on her porch.

Urgh. I could keep going and going and picking out interesting stories… 

I’ve spent a lot of time considering my rating. I end up on 4.5 stars. I enjoyed each story as I read them. They provided excellent distraction and entertainment. I’m likely to go back and reread them. But when it comes down to the final rating, they didn’t “stick” for me. I’m not obsessing about them like I was with Do Not Go Quietly or Sing Me Your Scars.

I honestly think the issue is more in how I read them than in the anthology. By its nature, this collection doesn’t have the cohesion the others did. The stories went in different directions instead of building up. So by trying to devour it, I let them cancel each other out.

Don’t be me. Savour these stories and let their flavors mature in your mouth. Then I expect you’ll love the collection even more than I did.

If you are interested in this book or in other amazing publications from Apex Book Company, I can give you a little tip. In connection with this book tour, Apex is offering 25% off everything in the Apex store all month long with discount code SEPTEMBER. So this is a great time to check out the tour, pick some favorites, and do a little shopping. If you’re on twitter, search for the hashtag #backcatalogblogtour to find all the reviews and interviews throughout the month.

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