EFC Winning Collection 2020 Review by Meg S. from The Fiction Addiction

EFC Winning Collection 2020 Review by Meg S. from thefictionaddiction.com

Earth's Final Chapters: Winning Collection 2020 is a collection of four fantasy stories by up-and-coming authors. Each story invites readers on a new path in a new fantasy world, where the legends of what lies outside the local community -- whether that’s a ravenous Grool, murderous pirates, an undersea society or a potion of everlasting life  -- have a twist. Lovely illustrations by different artists add to the worldbuilding.

The opening short story, The Wilding, by Martha Everitt, tells of a harsh world where danger is constantly threatening, but it’s ultimately a coming-of-age story. The world of The Wildling has strange, deadly plants and terrifying monsters just outside the community. This is a fantasy adventure, where people struggle to survive, terrified by legends of the Grool in the surrounding forest. The Grool is monstrous, strong and ever hungry, with skin invulnerable to almost any weapons.

 This dramatic adventure has quiet moments of personal discovery, too, as young Riss accompanies his cocky older brother Tommas on a raid, and discovers the leadership and strength his jock brother displays in danger. Riss, who mostly wants to be left alone to write and ponder, discovers new strengths in himself, too. This opening story sets readers up for the themes of legends, hidden strengths, and unexpected friendship found in this collection.

While The Wilding introduces us to a hero with surprising inner strength, in Lungs Full of Water, by Jackary Salem, our hero is basically the last one to discover what’s inside himself. Set in a world of piracy and danger, this is another piece that works as both a fantasy adventure and a story of personal discovery.

In Jim Horlock’s story, Ever-Life, a cruel villain is set on finding a magical solution to mortality, and he doesn’t much care who he has to threaten, hurt or kill on his way to acquiring the mythical Ever-Life. Like in Lungs Full of Water, the author considers what would be a just, fitting ending for their character.  Author Horlock plays with a few familiar beats of the hero’s journey, but it’s clearly a villain’s journey instead. Although readers see Rezag’s violence, greed, and cruelty right from the start, his quest for eternal life is compelling too. When his search for the Ever-Life finally draws to a close, warlord Rezag gets much more than he expected. Ever-Life is a wonderfully dark story that doesn’t rely on gore to show evil.

               In our final story, Intertwined, by Victoria Clapton, readers discover a well-developed fantasy world that has certain connections to our own. Young Muireann’s journey, like Riss’ in The Wilding, drags her away from her safe village to help protect her community and risk the terrible dangers in legends.This tale shows an intriguing world, with believable conflict, and the associated art from Maria F. Loscher adds richness.

               The authors of these new stories in Earth's Final Chapters: Winning Collection 2020 present readers with a variety of unlikely heroes and terrifying antagonists, all in fantastic settings.