A.F. Stewart’s short story collection, Inside Realms, is a rare treat for any fantasy lover.

Written with the same grace and mastery as her poetry collection, Tears of Poetry, Inside Realms consists of nine stories, the first three set in the mythical world of Ms. Stewart’s upcoming novel, Song of the Wind and Sea. The other tales range in setting from the Roman world and the realm of King Arthur, from the modern day to a world of gods in an unknown time. But no matter the setting, these stories walk the edge between beauty and violence, and within their settings the boundaries between life and death, love and destruction are flexible and blurred. Not even gods and master magicians are safe, but love can conquer any boundary, crossing from life to endure death, joining natural to supernatural. Indeed, love and destruction are the great levelers here, capable of bringing down the mere mortal and the mighty.

Ms. Stewart’s style is imminently suited to these stories, neither florid nor melodramatic but filled with color and movement and starkly represented passion. Her sense of time and place are impeccable, making each realm entirely consistant within the boundaries of the tale. Every story holds a sense of decisions made and judgement served, of action taken and its inevitable consequence. Whether that judgement is meted out to vampires, wizards, soldiers or gods, it is swift, and it is, essentially, fair even when it is without mercy.

These nine stories have left me with a great desire to read more, and I am anxious for the forthcoming books. Do yourself a favor and seek out Ms. Stewart’s books whenever and wherever they are available.

Inside Realms is currently available on Lulu.com, but within a few weeks should be available at other online booksellers. It is also available as a .pdf download from Lulu.