Swordfleur Skullybed

for Kathleen Jennings
(from her Game of Squares prototype)

(Oh, this doggerel is VERY SILLY, ma belle amie–but it was so fun to play!)

Swordfleur Skullybed
Rose at her heart
Crypt at her head
Long black rapier gleaming bright
Crept to her love
On a brine-drowned night
Demoiselle La Tombstonetree
Saddled her mare
And galloped the sea
Churned those breakers white as lace
Challenged her love
To a game of chase
"Tree!" cried Fleur
"Oh, must thou fly?
Thine old gray mare is fleeing high
Had I an arrow to my name
I'd bolt her down 
And end thy game!"
"Fleur, my sapskull!"
Tree replied
"The game is this: I run and hide
And you, like brigand in full roar
Come run me down
Swordfleur Skullybed
Seized with despair
(And seeing red)
Wrapped her cloak around a breeze
And flew like a bat
To the place she pleased
(Where the crypt and the rose and the quiet reigned
Where the rain fell soft, and the glass bells rang
Where the demoiselles, all shanks and sharps
With eyes like pits and teeth like sharks
Were yet more kindly to their Fleur
Than Tombstonetree had been to her)
Demoiselle La Tombstonetree 
Wild as a wager 
And flying free
Waved farewell and galloped on
Forgot the hour
Forgot the dawn
(Forgot that the touch of the sun meant death
Would stop up her heart and rob her of breath
Would turn her to pearls, all luster and gloss
As pale as her lace, as gray as her horse
A tumble of pearls which would wash up on shore
To be gathered for garlands by faithful Fleur)
Swordfleur Skullybed
Loved by ladies
Long since dead
Gave all her garlands of pearls away
To any demoiselle
Who stayed

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The Last Fallen Star: Which Clan is Carlos?

In which my darling Carlos quizzes himself on @gracikim’s THE LAST FALLEN STAR, and adorns himself with FLASH TATTOOS.

(Hot dang! I love a handsome man in flash tattoos!)

Hey friends! Graci Kim is the latest Rick Riordan Presents author, and to celebrate the upcoming release of her book, Read Riordan has posted a quiz to help you figure out which of the many magical clans you would belong to, based on your personality! Check out my results in the video below! You can take the quiz yourself here!

(And don’t forget to pre-order!)

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La Carlotta in the Making

A Shakespearean Sonnet for Carla Kissane

by C. S. E. Cooney

Upon her rooftop in her raven wig
The actress plays for pigeons and a dream
Of one day strutting stately, in full rig
Onstage, performing live but not livestream
But meantime, every kettle is her cauldron
A-bubble with the witchcraft of her work
A neon feather boa for her pauldron
Her corset, shield; stiletto heel, her dirk
And though no one is watching, how she hones
Her craft, as though her lips drop gems and gold
How every kitchen chair becomes a throne
And solitude a canvas for the bold
O lady! Though these days have worn you fine
Just know: you put the "diva" in "divine"

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Join us for GHOULSPEAK!

Join the creators of GHOUL vol. II—an art zine with campy-horror vibes—for a reading of poetry, short stories, & an artists’ process talk!

About this Event

Join the contributors of Ghoul vol. II for a night of reading campy stories and poetry, talking process (both the artistic process and the business of zine-making), and showing off some really amazing art.

Meet Brett Masse, editor, artist, and designer of Ghoul II, as well as Aaron Byrd (writer), Crystal Hartman (artist), Skull Mouth (artist, cartoonist), Arista Slater-Sandoval (photographer), Patty Templeton (writer), and yours truly, C. S. E. Cooney (poet)! Hear us chat and ask us your questions!

We’ll be WICKED GLAD to see you!


Meet the Creators

Brett Massé is a graphic designer and artist focused on work centered around art, design, and games, with an emphasis on subcultures, DIY philosophies, and sociopolitical critiques of an instinct-driven society’s impact on technology and culture, making particular note to its influence on the environment!He lives with a cat named Boombox. Lately he’s been catching up on samurai movies and designing zines–LIKE GHOUL vol. II!!!
Patty Templeton is a writer, archivist, artist, and itinerant kitchen dancer. She was a 2020 Library of Congress Junior Fellow, is a provisional member of the Academy of Certified Archivists, and the author of the historical fantasy novel, There is No Lovely End. She enjoys hot coffee, loud rock shows, and reading while wrapped in rhinestones.
Aaron Byrd is a writer and father. Previously a logistics manager for a brewing equipment company, he now writes fantastic stories for his D&D group and recites poetry to his aquariums full of snails and floating plants.
His son is a dinosaur.
Crystal Hartman is an artist and jeweler working in process oriented traditions to meet the abstract with a formalism guided by an appreciation for nature, figure (botanical, entomological, and mammalian), the balance of light and shadows, the feminine, ritual, and the act of gathering rooted in shared evolutionary histories.

Her artwork has been shown at locations such as the Center for Contemporary Culture, Barcelona Spain, the National Palace of Culture, Sophia Bulgaria and The Lill Street Art Gallery, Chicago Illinois.
After studying Femininity in Argentine Society, filming with Null Skateboards in Spain, teaching and studying public art and cultural craft in Chaing Mai, Thailand, with an appreciation for cultural diversity she returned home to Colorado to found and direct a Studio Tour and relish in the local arts community. Currently maintaining a studio in Urbana Illinois, Hartman’s focus is directed at carving wax, and developing a concept of becoming relative to home and livable futures.

An advocate for the environment and for the literary arts, her visual reviews and collaborations can be found in select literary journals including La Piccoleta Barca, CutBank Literary Journal, Interrupture Magazine, and A5 Magazine. Crystal Hartman Art Jewelry can be found at select galleries and fine jewelry stores throughout the states.
Arista Slater-Sandoval was born and raised in Grand Rapids Michigan and moved in 2007 to Washington D.C. to pursue a BFA in photography at the Corcoran College of Art and Design. While there she completed a 5 months Teachers Assistance and residency program in New York city at the Center for Alternative Photography.

After completing a BFA, she moved to Cambridge MA, and attend the College of Art and Design at Lesley University where she obtained a MFA in Fine Art Photography in 2013. While in grad school she pursued issues in communication, identity, love and romance thought alternative photographic processes.
Since moving to Santa Fe in 2016, she teaches full time at the Institute of American Indian Art while balancing studio time. She continues to work in alternative photographic processes and approaches while tackling large issues in feminine and multi-racial representation, domestic spheres and intimate relationships.

Cartoonist Skull Mouth‘s work speaks for itself. Follow his work here.

Donate to the Navajo and Hopi Families Covid Relief Fund here.


C.S.E. Cooney is an audiobook narrator, the singer/songwriter Brimstone Rhine, and author of World Fantasy Award-winning Bone Swans: Stories.

Her novel Saint Death’s Daughter comes out from Solaris in 2022. Find her 2020 novel The Twice-Drowned Saint in A Sinister Quartet, an anthology of long fiction by Mythic Delirium. Her novella Desdemona and the Deep was published by Tor.com in 2019.

Her poetry collection How to Flirt in Faerieland and Other Wild Rhymes features the Rhysling Award-winning “The Sea King’s Second Bride,”  and her short fiction can be found in Ellen Datlow’s Mad Hatters and March Hares, Rich Horton’s Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, and elsewhere.

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This Saturday: Nightmares Unearthed!

Dear Fans of Horror and the Macabre,

This Saturday night, March 27th, at 8 PM EST, is my pleasure to host NIGHTMARES UNEARTHED.

Join us for a night of delicious dread!

We will be summoning the collective perilous powers of six world-class horror writers–Zin E. Rocklyn, Cassandra Khaw, Mike Allen, Daniel Braum, Emma J. Gibbon, and Gordon B. White–for our horripilating entertainment!

Each of these authors had books out in 2020 or will be releasing books later in 2021. They will be reading from selected works, then participating in a Q&A with YOU, the audience!


After you register, you’ll be getting emails from us about the upcoming event.

On the day of the event, you’ll get a Zoom link and a password!

We are looking forward to seeing you there!


C. S. E. Cooney



Mike Allen is a two-time World Fantasy Award finalist. He edits and publishes the Mythic Delirium Books imprint. His short stories have been gathered in three collections: Unseaming, The Spider Tapestries and newly-released Aftermath of an Industrial Accident. His novella “The Comforter,” a sequel to his Nebula Award-nominated horror story “The Button Bin,” has just appeared in an anthology of four dark long-form tales, A Sinister Quartet. He’s also a three-time winner of the Rhysling Award for poetry.

Find him at:





“An incredible read. This collection of horror and dark fantasy poetry and short fiction needs to be on the shelf of any horror reader.”

— Cemetery Dance

“Allen overflows the tank with nightmare fuels . . . These horror shorts are sure to linger in the dark corners of readers’ minds.”

— Publishers Weekly, starred review

A Korean War veteran must rely on wits, improvised weapons, and words from the dread Necronomicon to escape the lair of a deranged cult. A ghost cannot communicate how she died, no matter how desperately she tries, while an unconventional ghost hunter incurs the venomous wrath of the Queen of Night. Murderous conspiracies reveal themselves in online video clips, a saint blasphemes as a serial killer prays for mercy, and corrupt families in ancient kingdoms trade blood and souls for leverage over foes. Enduring nightmares for a living can lead to a fate worse than burnout. A gruesome invasion from outside space and time tests courage—and corporate loyalty—past all rational limits.

In these twenty-three stories and poems, two-time World Fantasy Award nominee Mike Allen spins twisted narratives, some wound through the fabric of our world, some set in imagined pasts or futures, all plumbing the depths of human darkness.

“The consistency, here, is simply excellence,” writes Bram Stoker Award finalist and Punktown creator Jeffrey Thomas in his introduction. “You are holding in your hands an overflowing cornucopia of monstrous goodness. Mike Allen may be the premier poet of this era of weird horror and surrealist fantasy. His work is completely fearless. He takes no genre boundaries as sacred.”

—The Plutonian


Emma J. Gibbon is a horror writer, speculative poet and librarian. Her stories have appeared in various anthologies, Including Wicked Weird and Wicked Haunted, and on the Toasted Cake podcast.

In 2020, she was nominated twice for the Rhysling Award for her poems “Fune-RL” (Strange Horizons) and “Consumption” (Eye to the Telescope). Her poetry has also been published in Liminality, Kaleidotrope and Pedestal Magazine.

Emma is originally from Yorkshire and now lives in Maine in a spooky little house in the woods with her husband, Steve, and three exceptional animals: Odin, Mothra, and M. Bison (also known as Grim).

Her website is emmajgibbon.com



Dark Blood Comes from the Feet is a strange and eclectic collection of seventeen stories from horror author and speculative poet Emma J. Gibbon.

Within its pages, you will meet secret societies who contract deadly diseases on purpose, dancers helping each other avoid “below,” monstrous children who must be loved before they return to the sea, a taxidermy-obsessed mother, small blue devils in the Maine woods, a black cat that retrieves the dying, the last witch in Florida, and “a huge fucking dog of potentially supernatural origin.”

Visit haunted houses, a Hollywood nightclub, limbo, Whitechapel, and other stops on a death tour, and a childhood hangout that spells destruction for kids and dogs alike. Listen to a punk rock sermon in a post-apocalyptic matriarchal society, witness crustaceans that have trouble staying dead, a cannibalistic romance, a gothic love story to tuberculosis and a downtrodden wife’s transformation.



“Careful, or you might cut yourself on these stories—little gems with sharp edges which deserve to be treasured alongside the jewels of Shirley Jackson and Sylvia Townsend Warner—in the tradition of the illuminating dark.” 

—M. Rickert, World Fantasy and Shirley Jackson Award-winning, author of You Have Never Been Here 

Gibbon is a compelling new voice in horror. Part punk, part metal, part crooner, her work resonates beautifully.”  

—Catherynne M. Valente, NYT/USA Today Bestselling Author


Cassandra Khaw is an award-winning game writer, and former scriptwriter at Ubisoft Montreal. Their work can be found in places like Fantasy & Science Fiction, Lightspeed, and Tor.com. Their first original novella, Hammers on Bone, was a British Fantasy award and Locus award finalist, and their forthcoming novella, Nothing But Blackened Teeth, will be published by Nightfire in September 2021.



(Forthcoming from from Nightfire in Fall 2021.)

“This is a glorious poem, a slow-motion collapse leading to the inevitable haunting. It is beautiful and it isbrutal and it is heartbroken. Absolutely recommended.”

— Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author of Every Heart a Doorway

Delicate and disgusting…Each page holds an image more finely drawn and disturbing than the last.”

— T. Kingfisher, author of The Twisted Ones and The Hollow Places

Imagine chucking The House on Haunted Hill, Japanese folklore, Clive Barker, and Kathy Acker into aliterary blender. Nothing But Blackened Teeth reads like the ghost-punk noir you never knew you needed.It’s sharp, playful, and nasty as hell.”

— Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Survivor Song

“Nothing But Blackened Teeth is a really bad idea for a wedding, and a really great idea for a nightmare-on-the-page. This book is so magnificently rotten it writhes with literary maggots, and deserves a place of honor among its peers in horror.”

— yours truly, C. S. E. Cooney, World Fantasy Award-winning author of Bone Swans: Stories


Gordon B. White is the author of the collection As Summer’s Mask Slips and Other Disruptions, as well as the forthcoming novellas ROOKFIELD and And In Her Smile, the World (with Rebecca J. Allred).

A graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop, Gordon’s short stories, reviews, and interviews have appeared in dozens of venues, including The Best Horror of the Year Vol. 12. You can find him online at www.gordonbwhite.com



“White’s grisly, tantalizing debut story collection is a love letter to the horror genre… White conveys visceral terror through gorgeous, evocative prose … juxtaposing the macabre with the sublime for a truly pleasurable read.”

— Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Gordon B. White’s stories are weird and wise and always surprising. An impressive first collection.”

— Kij Johnson, author of The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe

“With his debut collection, Gordon B. White establishes himself as one of the major new voices of speculative fiction. A quiet creeping dread that never lets up, As Summer’s Mask Slips and Other Disruptions explores pain, loneliness, and horror through a deeply personal lens of family and outsiders. These unforgettable short stories are not to be missed.”

— Gwendolyn Kiste, Bram Stoker Award®-winning author of The Rust Maidens

“Tapping into the atmosphere, authority, and history of Southern Gothic fiction, Gordon B. White’s collection of horror stories is haunting, lyrical, and unsettling. There is a primal fear that lurks in us all: a worry that just beyond the end of the flashlight beam waits unimaginable horror—and this cornucopia of dark tales proves that point.”

— Richard Thomas, author of Disintegration and the Thriller Award-nominated Breaker


Zin E. Rocklyn is a contributor to Bram Stoker-nominated and This is Horror Award-winning Nox Pareidolia, KaijuRising II: Reign of Monsters, Brigands: A Blackguards Anthology, and Forever Vacancy anthologies and Weird Luck Tales No. 7 zine.

Their story “Summer Skin” in the Bram Stoker-nominated anthology Sycorax’s Daughters received an honorable mention for Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year, Volume Ten.

Zin contributed the nonfiction essay “My Genre Makes a Monster of Me” to Uncanny Magazine’s Hugo Award-winning Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction.

Their short story “The Night Sun” and flash fiction “teatime” were published on Tor.com. Zin is a 2017 VONA and 2018 Viable Paradise graduate as well as a 2022 Clarion West candidate.

You can find them on Twitter @intelligentwat



This “dark, dazzling debut novella from Zin E. Rocklyn that reads like Rosemary’s Baby by way of Octavia E. Butler,” will be published by Tor.com in Fall 2021.

Survivors from a flooded kingdom struggle alone on an ark. Resources are scant, and ravenous beasts circle. Their fangs are sharp.

Among the refugees is Iraxi: ostracized, despised, and a commoner who refused a prince, she’s pregnant with a child that might be more than human. Her fate may be darker and more powerful than she can imagine.

Zin E. Rocklyn’s extraordinary debut novella is a lush, gothic fantasy about the prices we pay and the vengeance we seek.



“Zin E. Rocklyn is already an essential and urgent voice in fantasy, and we’re unbelievably lucky to have their debut novella on our list. Flowers from the Sea is a gorgeous, gothic novella that devours what’s rotten about the legacies that came before it and will show readers something vividly, wonderfully new.”

— Ruoxi Chen, Editor at Tor.com


Daniel Braum is the author of the short story collections The Night Marchers and Other Strange Tales from Cemetery Dance eBooks in 2016; The Wish Mechanics: Stories of the Strange and Fantastic from Independent Legions in 2017; and the chapbook Yeti Tiger Dragon from Dim Shores in 2016.

Underworld Dreams is his third collection and was released from Lethe Press in September 2020 and is out now as an Audio Book. The Serpent’s Shadow, his first novella, was released from Cemetery Dance eBooks in July 2019.

He is the editor of the Spirits Unwrapped anthology. His work has appeared in publications ranging from Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet to the Shivers 8 anthology. His most recent story appears in the Best Horror of the Year Volume 12 edited by Ellen Datlow.

He is the host of the Night Time Logic series. And the annual New York Ghost Story Festival.

He can be found at https://bloodandstardust.wordpress.com



Underworld Dreams is Daniel Braum’s third short story collection of genre transcending, strange stories full of tension between the supernatural and psychological.

Within the pages Braum’s multi-dimensional characters face dark underworlds and strange experiences that illuminate the human condition and world (we think) we know.

Appearing in the volume for the first time is the original story “Between Our Earth and Their Moon” and the original novella, the title story, “Underworld Dreams (Sogni del Mundo Sotteraneo)” along with an introduction and story notes by the author.



“The premises are creative, with the characters usually facing strange choices in unusual circumstances.”

– Kirkus Reviews

“Awesome reading that’s going to disturb you, make you think, and maybe even scare you a bit.”

– Damaged Skull Writer


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Our Surreal A.M.s

Hernandez and I have the strangest morning conversations, and I recently realized I’d love to preserve some of them.

Alas for the last 6 years of lost moments. Though I suppose some things OUGHT to remain private.

But really, sometimes it’s like we live in our own private cartoon strip!

This morning, for example:

Me: Imagine it. An ouroboros Möbius strip NESTING DOLL!
Carlos: *blinks*
Carlos: *blinks*
Carlos: *blinks*
Carlos: Come for the nightmare, stay for the mathematics!

Or, our running gag about poor Amelia Earhart. (CW: MACABRE!) We’d read this article about one of her possible demises via coconut crab.

So sometimes, of a morning, there might be a scene:

Carlos: (gnawing on my skull) Oh! Amelia! It is I, your beloved coconut crab!


Me: (gnawing on his skull) (to the tune of Joni Mitchell’s “Amelia“) “Amelia! It was just a false alarm!”

I was thinking I should name our coconut crab characters, and how they could psych each other out by crawling into Amelia’s skull and pretending she’s still alive.


and the other goes: “IS THAT YOU, AMELIA?”

and the first one says: “NAH M’CRAB, JUST MESSIN WITH YA.”

I’d have to make a study of Micronesian languages to give the coconut crabs really swell names though…

Anyway, that’s my morning. How’s yours?

Now just imagine us as coconut crabs.

It really isn’t too hard, is it?

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GHOUL 2 : a dorky rad vlog plus pics

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Elevators: A Pantoum(ish)

by C. S. E. Cooney

in my dreams, the elevators have no doors 
they're merry-go-rounds, roller coasters
too many buttons, none of them work
they move like trains through cities
we're roller coasters, merry-go-rounds
we cross the street when we see each other
half-empty trains moving through cities 
it's no longer polite to hold the elevator door
we cross the street when we see each other
like in dreams, our pacing's off
touch nothing, rush to close the elevator door
cover your masked mouth to cough
our pacing's off, like in dreams  
time feels like flying, or quicksand, or static
cover your masked mouth to cough
murmuring not "Excuse me," but "Not Covid!"
time feels static, or like quicksand, or falling
boundary-less, kaleidoscopic free-range
no excuses--but the ubiquitous corvid 
perched on my fire escape, inked like a headline
"boundary-less, kaleidoscopic free-range"
is how I dress these days, pajamas and ball gowns
nail polish chipped like my fire escape, ink for eyeliner
a door closes between me and the household voices
"I love your ball gown!" shouts the stranger in pajamas
we wait for the elevator, she with laundry, me with groceries
one goes first, one waits; a door closes between us
in my dreams, the elevators have no doors


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Diamond Sharks

Really fine mermaid story! Loved!

mermaids monthly

by Floris M. Kleijne

This story originally appeared in Leading Edge Magazine in 2008

“Has anyone explained the anatomical details to you yet?” the surgeon said, as the two gowned and masked assistants shaved and disinfected my entire body. Turning my head to my right, I could see her through the reinforced glass, but her mouth was open to the water on the other side of the glass and her lips weren’t moving. Instead, her voice—or rather a synthesized approximation—came from the teletransponder mounted over the glass. She was floating in a vertical position, her perfunctory white coat billowing with each rush of exhaled water. Because I was lying on my back and looking to my right, my whole perspective was tilted by ninety degrees, and her voice seemed to come from the transponder mounted to her left. The effect was disorienting.

I shook my head. I didn’t care about…

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In which Carlos Hernandez and I Narrate “The Book of May” on Podcastle!

Carlos and I met at Readercon in 2014 and became friendly Internet acquaintances. Then, in January 2015, Carlos accepted my Facebook challenge to collaborate on a short story.

We wrote “Book of May” over a series of VERY early mornings, and lo! Mike and Anita Allen at Mythic Delirium published it in Clockwork Phoenix 5.

Shortly after this, dear Reader, I married Carlos. (Well, relatively shortly after. Other stuff happened first. But this is where it all began.)

And now, six years later, “The Book of May” is live at Podcastle.org! This is the first time it exists in audio form, and Carlos and I do the narrations.

Fun Fact I: Setsu Uzume mentions This Is How You Lose the Time War in their “Book of May” outro. At the time I was first becoming friends with Carlos, exchanging letters with him and collaborating on this story, my dear friend Amal El-Mohtar was also first becoming friends with Max Gladstone… with whom she later wrote This is How You Lose the Time War. She and I would write letters to each other about our new correspondents/collaborators/friends.

Fun Fact II: Carlos and I were chatting about how we’d love for “Book of May” to have a second life in reprints somehow. I proposed us sending it to Podcastle, even though it is a leeetle long for their guidelines. But their guidelines also say to query in that case. So I did. Funnily enough, the editor Jen Albert had recently been given our story to read by mutual friend, poet and essayist Dominik Parisien. She was just about to write to us about it!

Other Places To Find Our Narrated Work

If you enjoyed “Book of May” on Podcastle.org want to hear me narrate a few of my erotic fairy tales and/or ghost stories, there’s always my collection THE WITCH IN THE ALMOND TREE: AND OTHER STORIES/

I also narrated my Tor.com novella DESDEMONA AND THE DEEP for Recorded Books, and my World Fantasy Award-winning collections BONE SWANS for Tantor Media.

If you loved listening to Carlos read “Book of May” for Podcastle, I gotta tell you about the Story Seeds Podcast. Carlos collaborated with two young writers (Zarana and Siri, age 10) to create a new story together. Hear him narrate their “The Paintbrush of Doom” here!

Last summer (2020), he also did this great “Volcanic Writing” vlog as a creative writing exercise for kids! (And the rest of us.)

Don’t forget, if you want to hear another WONDERFUL Carlos Hernandez short story narrated by a LEGENDARY narrator, Levar Burton narrates “Fantaisie Impromptu No. 4 in C#min, Op. 66” for Levar Burton Reads.

And last but not least, I want to mention Carlos’s two middle-grade novels for Rick Riordan Presents: SAL AND GABI BREAK THE UNIVERSE, and SAL AND GABI FIX THE UNIVERSE. (Spoiler, they don’t. They just break it some more.) They are narrated by Anthony Rey Perez, both Editors’ Picks on Amazon, both winners of the Earphones Award in AudioFile Magazine.

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