I must begin my review with a disclaimer: I am acquainted with some of the writers published in this anthology, as well as the Editor in Chief, through an online critique site. That said, I was not solicited to write a review, and I am approaching this review with the same objectiveness I would treat any other.
First, the cover art is gorgeous, and the illustrations inside are a great match for the stories.
Secondly, I was impressed by the extremely professional end result, especially since this was Brian Lewis' first publication. Any writer considering submitting to future issues of Spark should rest easy knowing that--if accepted--their work will be showcased beautifully, and judging by the quality of stories in this issue, in excellent company.
The anthology opens with 'Five Hundred', by D. Laserbeam, which sets a high standard for what is to follow, and the rest of the anthology lives up to that. 'Last Rites' by George Wells brought a lump to my throat, as did 'Faceless' by Katie Stephens, and Alexis Hunter's 'By the Gun' had me on the edge of my seat. 'Forget Me Not' by Svetlana Kortchik also had me turning page after page, as did 'Gingerbread Towns' by Hannah Weverka. 'Her Fruitful Shore' by Brian Reeves not only brought a lump to my throat, but tears to my eyes and made me angry and sad at the same time. I'm not going to mention every single story, but I thought they were all worthy of their place in the anthology.
As for the poetry, I'm no poet and wouldn't know where to start in reviewing poetry. But I did enjoy reading them all. 'Old Age' by Matt Lancaster and 'Vows' by John Stocks in particular resonated with me.
In all, Spark: A Creative Anthology is an impressive collection of fiction and poetry that I would give four and a half stars for (except Amazon won't let me). Why not five? Only because there were a couple of stories that didn't quite hook me. They were well written, and would probably captivate someone else, so it's probably just a matter of personal taste, but I'll save my five star rating for the issue that completely bowls me over from beginning to end. I'm sure that given the quality of this first issue, it will be only a matter of time.