Reading, Reviews

Short Story Reviews 4

TLDR: I interrupt the story for some fiction reviews from Clarion grads and Laurie Penny.

Previous reviews: 1, 2, 3

I will get back to the story of Besh, Fife, Beryl, and Ohnsy in a bit. December is a busy month. I’ve got a short story contest deadling on the horizon and I continue to revise chapters of my novel with the Albuquerque Cyberscribes. In the meantime, I read some short stories over Thanksgiving Break. Here are my top pics from the stories I read.

First off we have two Clarion West graduates:

The Chariots, the Horsemen by Stephanie Malia Morris
This is an emotional, vivid, and just-the-right-length magical story. I don’t usually like the sort of scifi/fantasy that injects a single small fantastic element into every day life, but this story is grounded in detail and relatable moments. The author accomplishes a great amount with an economy of language while maintaining crystal clarity.

From the Root by Emma Torzs
This is a tight, well-paced story that had me in its grips, eager to find out what happens in the end.

Next up we have a trio of short stories by Laurie Penny. I was a fan of LP’s non-fiction so I decided I should give her fiction a go.

Blue Monday by Laurie Penny
I found this story slow to get started, but it built with a steady, relentless momentum. All the pieces click into place like the teeth of a zipper on a bodybag. I should have expected a dystopian nightmare behind the cute cat videos from Laurie Penny. That’s what I got with excellent form.

The Killing Jar by Laurie Penny
So of course when LP writes about the subject of murder it somehow feels lighter and happier than when she writes about frolicking kittens. This story didn’t give me the creepy crawlies like the previous one did, but it built up with the same steady brick by carefully-placed brick development. Even though the reader knows a wall is coming, it’s still a delight and a little bit of a surprise when its construction is complete.

Your Orisons May Be Recorded by Laurie Penny
This is my least favorite of the LP trio. It felt more meandering and more been-done-before than the others. I still enjoyed it and it had some killer bits such as:
“I loved a scientist, once, in Babylon, in the land between the two rivers. His beard was slight and his eyes were black and fronded with long, long lashes, and it was the eighth century after they killed the Nazarene, and he found me in a decorative jar in the market, where a witch whose son I had seduced kept me prisoner for a decade.”


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