Review: Passing Visions by Martin John Stokes (Short Story)

19 Aug

I’m back with a review of the first short story launched by Fox and Raven Publishing. 🙂


You can get more info at this link, and at Fox and Raven’s Facebook page, but what you need to know is that Fox and Raven are a new independent publisher, based in Cape Town, South Africa, who are focusing on bringing readers excellent new writers of Science Fiction and Fantasy, as well as stories that could be considered Urban Fantasy and Horror.

Martin first came to my attention when he was published in the first Science Fiction Anthology featuring African Writers, AfroSF (reviewed here), and with Passing Visions Martin shows his versatility as a storyteller and writer who doesn’t allow himself to be caged by a specific genre.

Passing Visions is about a psychologist is pulled into the sadness and horror of his patient’s life. James is trying to be a normal teenager, but and encounter with the school bully has turned his life upside down. I won’t reveal just what happened (the cover of the eBook is clue enough), but I will go into why I thought this was a brilliant, captivating read. And pretty damned unsettling, too.

Like every other teenager in high school James is searching – for himself, for balance, for hints of who he wants to (or might) when he becomes an adult. He struggles with fitting in and conversely, with standing out.

Indie is a psychologist who is trying to balance his career (or calling) with the stress of an impending divorce. He feels that he knows what life is about, what and who he is; his entire world is changed when James enters his practice.

These two characters play off each other wonderfully – the majority of the tale is told from James’ point of view, so the reader gets to know James quite deeply, but even so, Indie’s strength as a character shines through; he’s not James’ opposite but a person in his own right, not a foil but an explorer who is approaching James and the reason he has come to see Indie from a clinical, logical direction. James at the beginning of the tale is the person who’s gone through everything and we get snapshots of who he was, or the person who is now hiding, as he tells his tale. With Indie we witness the fall into darkness and madness, vicariously listening as James’ story unfolds, both imagining Indie’s reaction and living it through our own thoughts and responses.

Martin manages to begin the story at an even, gradual pace, introducing not only the two characters but the room in which the tale occurs – as the tale progresses he takes us to James’ high school, home and garden, and even though the pace remains even and measured throughout -this isn’t an action adventure or a thriller- the psychological onslaught begins, at first hardly noticeable but gradually becoming more powerful. And this is before the horror of what is happening really takes hold. By the time it does, I’m sure the reader – as I was- will be held fast, unable to stop reading. It is, as they say, too late.

Martin also writes with a beautiful and enviable control, stringing sentences together in such a way that scenes take shape and characters take life with what seems to be no effort – and there are so many memorable lines in this story! Memorable and unsettling, both.

This is definitely a story that will remain with me for a long, long time. It shows that Martin can weave an incredible, memorable tale with realistic characters that make the reader wonder and flinch and grimace and shudder – I can’t help thinking that he’ll be giving many readers many, many sleepless nights!

An excellent tale – psychologically disturbing, emotionally powerful and creepy as hell!

9 / 10

Passing Visions

To order your e-copies, click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK. If you want more info about Martin, check out his profile on Goodreads. 🙂

Until tomorrow,



Posted by on August 19, 2013 in Fox and Raven Publishing, Reviews


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