REVIEW: “Toward a New Lexicon of Augury” by Sabrina Vourvoulias

Review of Sabrina Vourvoulias, “Toward a New Lexicon of Augury”, Apex Magazine 114 (2018): Read Online. Reviewed by Joanna Z. Weston.

In this magical post-apocalyptic story, the Mole Street Mob, composed of witches, brujas, and cunning folk, only wants to protect their community from gentrification. Of course, that puts them at odds with the city government, and that rarely ends well.

The world-building really makes this story. It’s drawn in light brush strokes, but the result is evocative. There was some terrible event years ago that restructured society. Electricity is dearly expensive. Witches exist not only on the fringes of society, but in law enforcement and city planning. And yet, in some very fundamental ways, their society is very similar to our own. Racism still keeps some people marginalized, and those at the top still abuse their power. Which means that the disenfranchised need to be all the more cunning with their use of magic, since it is neither secret nor rare.

I loved how Alba, the main character, used her augury to plan the big magical working they need to do. It didn’t deliver a fully formed plan for the gang to use, but offered her hints and glimpses and partial instructions that she had to piece together. Divination is too rarely used to good effect, and this felt like a unique and rewarding interpretation of the subject.

All in all, a moving story about the power of resistance, and of love.

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