• Aaron Channel

Curses & Cauldrons: This Spell Won't Wear Off

Blood Song Books has released its first 100-word drabble collection, “Curses & Cauldrons: An Anthology of Witchcraft Microfiction,” edited by Zoey Xolton. Featuring 200 stories and contributed to by 78 authors, this book provides an easy read for the Halloween-lover on the go. Loyal familiars, vengeful covens, societal outcasts, grannies with ominous secrets, and lovers oh-so-unwise to jilt abound in these quick, but addictive, pages.

The negatives: some of the stories that made it into the book, while they don’t deviate from the overall spooky tone, don’t have terribly original plots. Also, some of the pieces were clearly fanfiction, some not related to witchcraft, and therefore, occasionally, their presence was somewhat jarring to the feel of the compilation as a whole.

These things said, there are indeed many, yes, many tiny tales present in this anthology that are extremely well-done—to the point that “Curses & Cauldrons” is likely one of the top horror drabble books available on the indie market this year. In it, Xolton has truly concocted a creepy, but delightful, vibe somewhat akin to that of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Despite being often scary and violent, it also has enough black comedy, feminine power moments, and snippets of dark romance to keep readers on their toes. Its combination of hardcore horror authors and significantly gentler YA voices would often not compliment each other, but Xolton has skillfully selected and arranged the submissions in such a way that she really pulls it off, making the book accessible to a much wider audience.

Undeniably, an added bonus is the anthology’s intense aesthetic appeal and use of graphics, which makes for a more pleasurable literary experience, rather like the reader has opened a nicely-crafted book of spells.

Noteworthy stories provided in it by: A.S. Charly, Alex Scopik, Archit Joshi, Brandy Bonifas, C.H. Williams, Cindar Harrell, David Rae, Desmond White, Eric S. Fomley, Evan Baughfman, Gabriella Balcom, Galina Trefil, Kevin Hopson, Nerisha Kemraj, Nicole Lynn, Patrick Winters, Rennie St. James, Saffron Shakerley, Shawn M. Klimek, Simon Dillon, Stacey Jaine McIntosh, Stephen Herczeg, Stuart Conover, Susanne Thomas, Terry Miller, and Zoey Xolton.

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