When this story opened with a library and a circus getting married, I didn’t expect it to become an allegory of contemporary hetero marital structures, rife with all the misogyny and patriarchy involved. Let’s just say, parts of this story had rather more realism than fantasy in them!
Emma works in a timetraveling circus, the only life she’s ever known. No one ever leaves the building that houses the circus, because no one ever knows when the circus might decide to up and leave to another time, leaving them stranded where they are forever. But Emma is tired of being trapped, and willing to risk anything to escape.
I thought this was a novel take on the topic, and felt that Kint’s story captured the sinisterness of circuses exceptionally well.
There were bits and parts of the story I really liked — the description “The reality-broken world was dangerous, with so many structures and safeguards failing, and so many people failed to manage themselves or cope or be kind in their new circumstances” felt very real in our post-Covid world — while other parts, especially towards the beginning, I found too disjointed and didactic for my tastes. It wasn’t until the very end of the story that the twist came that made this a distinctive circus story, rewarding the reader for their perseverance.
This was the third circus-themed story I’d read in this issue of LSQ, which prompted me to actually read the editorial — the entire issue is circus-themed, so maybe I should not have been so surprised to be reading so many circus stories!
I liked this one for its wlw storyline, but I felt it was rather lacking on actual story content.
Another circus-themed story in this issue of LSQ — I feel like I’ve been reading a lot of them lately! I enjoyed this one more than some but not as much as others; it seems that it’s hard to do something distinctive with the setting, and I’m not sure this story quite managed it.
Thumbs up for a great title. Another thumbs up for beautiful imagery that made me feel like I was watching a ballet. And because I keep spare thumbs around just for such purposes, a third one for giving me a bittersweet but still hopeful story.
Content note: Physical abuse.
This story took awhile to get going — a lot of imagery and description before anything actually happened — and there was a lot about the story that felt very stereotypical: the young, beautiful, cursed heroine, who is all alone in the world; the circus; the evil circus ring-leader. In the end, it was a bit too ponderous for me.
Review of Adriana C. Grigore, “Of Buckwheat and Garlic Braids”, in Liane Tsui and Grace Seybold, eds., A Quiet Afternoon (Grace & Victory Publictions, 2020): 79-91 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)
This delightful story was suffused through with Romanian cultural influences — I love it when fantasy stories opt for something other than “generic European”! Toma’s world is filled with strigoi and moroi, creatures that can be banished, or at least distracted by, garlic and buckwheat. Despite this, it’s a warm, cozy world filled with strong friendships and familial networks, making it a perfect capping off of a lovely anthology.
Review of Melissa DeHaan, “Hollow”, in Liane Tsui and Grace Seybold, eds., A Quiet Afternoon (Grace & Victory Publications, 2020): 69-78 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)
Ursa enters the lair of the long-dead Archmage Rassa, rumored to be guarded by a Hollow more advanced than the Hollows that usually guard other left-behind mage treasure troves, hoping to find the treasure that Rassa left behind. Whom she meets instead is Galatea, who is unlike anyone or anything she has ever met before — and who is there to find the Hollow guardian. Together, they join forces to find out just what, exactly, lies within.
In the way of all good satisfying adventure stories, both find what they are looking for, but not necessarily in the way the expect. Another good example of the type of story this anthology was aiming for.