Bete Noire #16 at Goodreads
Bete Noire website.
Overall Rating: 6/10
Issue sixteen includes, along with four short stories, visual art by Eleanor Leonne Bennett ("Shot Down 225"), Denny E. Marshall ("The Last Promise"), Wojciech Wolinski ("2") and two by Luke Spooner ("Backseat Driver" and "Group"), who is currently a finalist for the Spark Anthology cover contest.
There is poetry from James Frederick William Rowe ("Bristlecone"), Marge Simon ("Rock On"), J. J. Steinfeld ("The Art of Becoming Invisible") and Carol Hornak ("House").
For the short stories...
The Devils of Somerset, Mississippi by Jeremy Lloyd Beck 6/10
An atheist moves to small town Somerset to teach high school English, and his ideology quickly conflicts with the churchgoing townsfolk, particularly with their culturally ingrained racism. Well written for the most part, and a promising two-thirds is unfortunately capped off with an ending that does not address the author's most interesting ideas. I would elaborate, and am dying too, but as the publication was just released I shouldn't. Good concrete images and ideas that are well woven into the story body.
Transient Number Five by Christian Riley 5/10
A disgruntled man stalks a transient. A little flat.
Eyes of the Dog by Tobacco Jones 7/10
In a future totalitarian society, where children are raised in vast orphanages, one mother struggles to keep her two children at home. Divided into five sections, each with a separate character point of view, the story develops nicely, and the title eventually reveals itself, The strongest, darkest piece in the collection. What I like best about the story is not the cold society it depicts, but that citizens are each looking out for their own selves. This points to the true bleakness of this world, for since there is no one to challenge the system, the system will not only remain unchanged, but will strengthen in its resolve.
Blood Debt by J.D. Cano 5/10
Our narrator awaits his turn in a line-up of Aztec blood sacrifices. This piece is a scene that does not quite make a story.