________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 2. . . .September 13, 2013


The Puzzle Box.

Apocalyptic Four, Eileen Bell... [et al.].
Calgary, AB: Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, 2013.
238 pp., trade pbk. & e-Book, $14.95 (trade pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-77053-040-9.(pbk.), ISBN 978-1-77053-041-0 (e-Book).

Subject Headings:
Science fiction, Canadian (English).
Fantasy fiction, Canadian (English).

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.

Review by Ronald Hore.

*** /4



Albert gripped the door frame to keep his hand from shaking. Perhaps Rosemont had a new sidekick. This one did not look dangerous, but psychopaths come in all stripes. “Do I know you?” Albert asked.

“No, I expect you don’t,” said the man with a hint of sadness. “Will you invite me in so I can warm myself by your fire? Perhaps offer me some tea? I am soaked to the bone.”

“What?” Albert asked, taken aback. “No, I don’t think so.”

“I’m sorry, but we do not have time for niceties,” the man said, pushing himself past Albert, his footsteps leaving puddles on the worn wooden floor. “We have much work to do tonight, Albert.” He placed his drenched case on a chair and began unfastening his jacket buttons.

Albert watched his unwanted visitor fuss with his jacket, carefully straightening it before placing it on the chair next to the dripping suitcase, and decided the man did not look dangerous. Just irritating. “How do you know my name?”

“How about that tea?” the visitor asked. (From “The First Piece of the Puzzle”.)


The Puzzle Box is a collection of nine linked tales written by four authors around the theme of a mysterious puzzle box. The anthology consists of 238 pages, plus six pages of other titles by the same publisher, with a brief description and author bios located on the back cover.

     The anthology opens with Archaeologist Professor Albert Mallory who has stolen an ancient puzzle box in order to pay off his debts. The story of how Albert comes to understand something about himself and the box is told in five shorter passages that fall between the tales of four others who are touched by the box when they succeed in opening it.

     Readers begin with “The First Piece of the Puzzle” followed by “The Awakening of Master March”. It is a story of a young musician, Warlock, who becomes infatuated with a young lady, Valerie. It turns out that Valerie is the leader of a coven of witches, and she invites Warlock to join them.

      Next comes “The Second Piece of the Puzzle” and then the story titled “Autumn Unbound” which combines Greek mythology and the modern day with a tale of Pandora and Prometheus.

     “The Third Piece of the Puzzle” leads into “Angella and Her Three Wishes”, a story of what might happen if you mix the problems of a rebellious teenage or twenty-something girl feuding with her single mother, and then add a Djinn and a Demon to complicate matters even further.

     “The Fourth Piece of the Puzzle” is followed by the last of the longer short stories, “Ghost in the Machine”. This is a time-twisted tale of jealousy and murder.

     The anthology closes with “The Final Piece of the Puzzle”. The puzzle-piece linking stories average around four pages in length each. The longer short stories run from 50 pages to 62 pages. Readers are certain to find something in the collection to confuse, amuse, or intrigue them. The Puzzle Box should appeal to someone who enjoys fantasy with a touch of mystery.


Ronald Hore, a member of several writing groups, pens medieval-style fantasy and fantasy detective stories in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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