I simply adored David Accampo's “Bizarre Love Triangle” and Caroline Pruett's “Enchantment Under the Sea” which gave Crowe and Sparrow, respectively, a real romance (notably not with each other). It's not pretty, it's not magical, but their respective partners suit them in a way. The same goes for how they meet their significant other of the tale, because it wouldn't be a day in the life of Sparrow and Crowe if something big and evil didn't try and kill them. “Bizarre Love Triangle” is heartbreaking and highlights just how lost Crowe is much of the time, drinking to forget all the terrible things he's seen and cursed with the Hand of Glory; a little bit of happiness shows a glimpse of what he was like before and could be again. I'm a big fan of a well-handled lesbian love story, and “Enchantment Under the Sea” nailed it with Sparrow meeting the odd couple version of herself, whom she naturally hates; however, this hatred turns to attraction, which pretty much sums up everyone Sparrow has ever grown attached to. This story is a fun romp and manages to go far beyond the stereotype of “hot lesbians” much to my delight.
Weird Romance didn't shy from trans* representations either, featuring a trans* character in one fashion or another in the first three tales “Harlow's Fairytale” by Joshua Alan Doetsch, “The Axlana Affair” by Tiffiny Kaye Whitney, and “Let's Not Belong Together” by Jay Stringer. “Let's Not Belong Together” is the tragic story of a boy who finds his first real friend in a severed head, and yes, it's as awesome and disturbing as it sounds. This is less a romance story and more about that isolation we all feel when we're young and different. Shout out to the character of Bobby for bucking the gender norms and starting to become himself. TG represent! “The Axlana Affair” is just good, clean fun as a case goes from bad to worse, and Crowe finds himself gaining certain *cough* assets. If you ever wanted to know what a female Xander Crowe would be like, this is a must read tale. “Harlow's Fairytale” involves an ancient deity pulling that whole “kiss a frog and make him a prince” trick, but Harlow's a little girl who knows better than to fall for just any old frog.
This anthology also includes a few different sort of tales. “Interlude at the Candyshack” by Christa Nahhas and Chloe Myaskovsky comes complete with accompanying art, as Sparrow and Crowe find themselves investigating a bakery that's making people eat to sickening excess around Valentine's Day. Darren Thomas' “The Knight's War” is a collection of poems regarding a knight on the quest to recover the holy grail and all the challenges you might expect that quest to come with in the world of Sparrow & Crowe. I would be remiss if I didn't give special attention to Jeremy Rogers “Final Girl” which is the first post-Wormwood story we've yet to see as a much older and changed Crowe takes on a case to try and save another girl to hopefully get it right just once.
And, let's not leave out Cameron Rice's “Cooper” which is about a man finding a new lover who is a little *ahem* ravenous for him, “Double Date” by Timmy Wood where a man's desire to date more than one woman leads him into some magical mayhem, and “Lint” by Paul Montgomery where Sparrow has some more fun with homunculi.
Weird Romance: A Sparrow & Crowe Anthology can be downloaded over at Amazon for $2.99. These diverse and fantastic tales may not be quite as creepy as the Yuletide Anthology, but they serve as great character explorations and are a worthy addition to the wider world of Sparrow & Crowe. I can't wait to see what next holiday or genre these talented writers have in store for us next.
Five “Depressives Manix” Jams Out of Five