REVIEW: “Silks” by Jennifer Lyn Parsons

Review of Jennifer Lyn Parsons, “Silks”, Luna Station Quarterly 44 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

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.

REVIEW: “The Mirror of Longing” by Wen-Yi Lee

Review of Wen-Yi Lee, “The Mirror of Longing”, Luna Station Quarterly 44 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

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.

REVIEW: “Paths of Life and Death” by Emma Schmid

Review of Emma Schmid, “Paths of Life and Death”, Luna Station Quarterly 44 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

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 Buckwheat and Garlic Braids” by Adriana C. Grigore

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: “Hollow” by Melissa DeHaan

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.

REVIEW: “Tomorrow’s Friend” by Dantzel Cherry

Review of Dantzel Cherry, “Tomorrow’s Friend”, in Liane Tsui and Grace Seybold, eds., A Quiet Afternoon (Grace & Victory Publictions, 2020): 65-68 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

For such a short story, there was a lot packed in here. I think probably many fellow women reading this story will have experienced being ostracized by other girls as a teenager, and share Sabrina’s disbelief in even the very idea of another girl, or woman, who would ever want to be her friend. It wasn’t until my late 30s that I discovered what it was like to be surrounded by women who were truly there to support and uplift each other; it made me glad that Sabrina, at least, got to learn this so much sooner!

REVIEW: “The Dragon Peddler” by Maria Cook

Review of Maria Cook, “The Dragon Peddler”, in Liane Tsui and Grace Seybold, eds., A Quiet Afternoon (Grace & Victory Publications, 2020): 55-64 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

Content note: drug addiction.

11 year old David has stolen his parents’ money and is off the find the dragon peddler, to finally buy a dragon of his own! Because the people who owned dragons, he saw, were always “the happiest people in the world” (p. 55). But the dragon peddler’s words are final: he needs to earn his dragon fair and square, not buy it with stolen money.

This was a great story, which made me cry (but in a good way!). Now I want a dragon that will sleep curled around my neck and blow smoke into my ear.

REVIEW: “12 Attempts at Telling About the Flower Shop Man (New York, New York)” by Stephanie Barbé Hammer

Review of Stephanie Barbé Hammer, “12 Attempts at Telling About the Flower Shop Man (New York, New York)”, in Liane Tsui and Grace Seybold, eds., A Quiet Afternoon (Grace & Victory Publictions, 2020): 51-54 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

While I liked this story, I felt it lacked something to make it special, to set it apart from other stories that could have been written in its stead. In attempts 1-11, I got the impression the story was going a particular direction; but attempt 12 dashed those hopes and maybe I’m just unhappy because my expectations were disappointed.