REVIEW: “Seven Things that Oughtn’t Cut Me” by Jessi Cole Jackson

Review of Jessi Cole Jackson, “Seven Things that Oughtn’t Cut Me”, Podcastle: Miniature 100 — Listen Online. Reviewed by Heather Rose Jones

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.

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