Paranormal Romance Guild book review team selected my new book of paranormal poetry, Shadows of Myth and Legend, for review.
EJ Stevens’ Shadows of Myth and Legend is a fascinating collection of short, powerful poems that thrill, chill and delight. Delving into established mythology, Stevens brings all manner of mythical creatures out of the shadows for a glimpse of the world behind the curtain. Her strategy is not to explore the legends deeply, but to provide hints of them; the result is a beguiling and provocative volume that creates more curiosity and tension than would facing the horror full on.
Like From the Shadows, Stevens’ previous collection of shaded paranormal poetry, this collection is divided into sections. Stevens takes us on a tour of the darker side of the elements (e.g., “Earth & Below;” “Fire & War”) and each of the sections presents short vignettes, such as the cautionary tale of a would-be unfaithful husband in “Woman in White,” or brief psychological sketches, as in “Loup Garou.”
In fact, “Loup Garou” is one of the shortest in the collection at eight-lines; but it also one of the most thrilling with its cold revelation of a once-human’s nature. The Loup Garou is a French legend of a human who changes into a wolf at his/her own will, and in Stevens’ hands, the narrator’s choice to kill is entirely her own; unlike a vampire or a more commonly known werewolf, the Loup Garou can choose its nature – and, in this short, chilling poem, does.
The last section of the book, interestingly, provides a Bestiary, listing all the strange and frightening creatures she writes about and the pages on which they could be found. These include banshees, fairies, vampires, werewolves and zombies, among others.
While none of the poems in the collection has been previously published, some have been released earlier on the Internet, such as “The Winter Queen.” All of them, however, deserve to be read and re-read.
Each of the poems displays Stevens’ impeccable sense meter and rhyme. A lesser poet may find herself slave to the lilting rhythm and flowing words Stevens so masterfully controls. After all, it’s easy for a writer to lose himself in verbal games, thereby losing the reader in technique. Stevens, however, works wondrously and naturally within her structure without misstep. She’s a rhythmic virtuoso!
The book’s haunting photography perfectly emulates the spirit of the material, from the shot of the author, with face downcast, descending steps in a cemetery on the cover – an image that hints at dark relations with a lover entombed below – to the black bird on the back cover, which reminds the reader of “The Raven” by Stevens’ literary forebear, Poe.
When it’s time to turn the last page and close the back cover, the reader will want to remain in the Shadows with Stevens – evermore.
Special Guest Reviewer- Andrew Valentine , Author of Bitter Things
Visit author Andrew Valentine at www.BitterThingsTheBook.com.
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This review was reprinted with the permission of the Paranormal Romance Guild. Please do not reprint or distribute without permission.