Beyond the Latch and Lever

Speculative Short Stories

Fiction - Anthology
233 Pages
Reviewed on 12/20/2020
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Author Biography

Susanna Skarland is an editor, author, and unicorn, holding an M.F.A. in writing for children and young adults from Hamline University. She is a member of SCBWI and volunteers for PNWA and the Society of Young Inklings, providing editorial support. Susanna writes fantastical, adventurous fiction about ancient dragons and flighty faeries. A sucker for playful language, she flagrantly fashions fanciful fractal fricatives. All of Susanna’s stories weave in a strong thread of science and the natural world, the residual effect of a substantial career in biological research. Her home is under the clouds of the Pacific Northwest, where you will find her with a cup of tea in hand and cat underfoot.

Elle Blackwood is a writer, poet, and editor with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and English literature. She is the author of A Map of My Existence, an autobiographical poetry collection published under her pseudonym, Elle Wonders. When crafting prose, Elle writes magical realism and literary Gothic fiction infused with folklore. She creates landscapes of dark woodlands, lochs, and rugged moors, with old mansions and thatched cottages that serve as central characters. Elle lives in a small Victorian river town with her husband, son, and a big black poodle with a penchant for solving mysteries. When Elle isn’t writing, she’s painting, traipsing through old graveyards in search of lost stories, or browsing antique shops. She collects obscure antiquarian books, lonely teacups, and vintage photographs of people she doesn’t know.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite

Sometimes, unsung heroes of the written word are the most instrumental in creating a final product worthy of its intended audience. Susanna Skarland and Elle Blackwood demonstrate this to perfection in their clean, crisp collection of speculative short stories, Beyond the Latch and Lever. Editing involves more than just choosing submissions to a theme; it requires specific, experienced-based skills for retaining an author’s creative intention and individual style while adhering to the most important aspect of publication: an appealing and accessible read. When the editors are proficient, the transformative handling is transparent, and we are left with writing we can trust, stories that pop with interest, and a collection consistent with our expectations and desires. That is meant not to underestimate the writers, but to highlight the augmenting role of the editors.

In their work, Beyond the Latch and Lever, Susanna Skarland and Elle Blackwood also present their own contributions to a really good batch of stories - speculative in nature, thematic in selection. As one might imagine, each story deals with the symbolic (and literal) concept of the door as a passageway to a strange, unusual, and mysterious world, even if only to another room just beyond. Each story is fresh and vital. Each story contains the strange, the unusual, and the mysterious. Each story is told clearly and concisely, with the momentum derived from immediate engagement. Again, one suspects the writers and the editors of a deeply engaged collaboration. The result is a highly polished and professional work, truly worthy of its intended audience.

Julie Artz

I was thrilled to contribute to this anthology featuring so many talented emerging authors with ties to the Pacific Northwest. The reviewer is spot on when he recognizes the great job Elle and Susanna did to bring these stories to life. Their careful eye really made this anthology shine.