Review of Erin Eisenhour, “The Black-Eyed Goddess of Apple Trees and Farmers’ Wives”, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue 308, (July 16, 2020): Read online. Reviewed by Richard Lohmeyer.
In addition to a wonderfully evocative title, this story features and is narrated by a feisty peasant girl named Bi. She has the bad luck to be chosen to receive “the highest honor any young woman can hope to attain in a mortal life”: to cure the province’s plum pox “by praying, fasting, and letting the shamans tear out my heart and eat its ashes.” Naturally, Bi is not thrilled by the prospect and attempts to avoid the “honor” by pretending she is not a virgin and therefore not the kind of candidate the shamans would prefer. This doesn’t work and the rest of the story provides interesting glimpses into Bi’s relationship with various family members, particularly that of her much-loved but deceased sister and her orphaned child. And by story’s end, Bi’s ultimate fate is not quite what anyone–including Bi–expected.