There is fantasy literature where the story itself emerges from the fantastic elements. And there is fantasy literature where the fantastic elements are used to address more familiar questions from a different angle. And then there is fantasy literature where the fantastic elements seem to be more of a Halloween costume, zipped up allegorically over a fairly mundane story. “Seven Things that Oughtn’t Cut Me” uses the language of trolls and elves, but is at heart a very ordinary–if heart-rending–story of bullying, school cliques, and a child of mixed heritage feeling out of place in the world. The fantasy felt pasted-on. That isn’t to say that it wasn’t a well-written story, but I prefer my fantasy elements to be an essential and inseparable aspect of the structure. I must also confess that the “listicle” story format, where the content is presented in the form of an ordered list of thematically-related elements, is a hard thing to sell me on. In many cases it feels like a way of dodging the lack of a plot. This story wasn’t bad, it simply wasn’t particularly good.
Content warning for descriptions of self-harm.