REVIEW: “The Warrior Tree” by Chana Kohl

Review of Chana Kohl, “The Warrior Tree,” Luna Station Quarterly 52 (2022): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Born into a remote Amazigh village, Faiza is trapped by the circumstances of her life — born with no fingers, only thumbs; no money to afford an education beyond 8th grade; betrothed young to a much older man. But Faiza is lucky; her elder brother Adil is a carpet-trader in Marrakech, and he’s willing to help when she begs him for a way out.

This was quite an interesting story — really enjoyable in its own right, but given the context in which it was published, I kept reading it thinking “when will the speculative element come in?” The answer to that is: not until the very final few paragraphs. As a result, the ending felt a bit stitched on; nice, but not needed.

REVIEW: “The Oak Tree” by Liz Baxmeyer

Review of Liz Baxmeyer, “The Oak Tree,” Luna Station Quarterly 52 (2022): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Dara is out haunting the oak tree when she surprises a stranger, Muriel, who is desperately seeking something. The folk songs that Dara sings, scattered throughout the story, emphasised the folk-tale nature of the story; but there was rather too much explaining rather than story-telling for it to quite work for me.

REVIEW: “End of the World, Beginning of Everything” by Kiersten Gonzalez

Review of Kiersten Gonzalez, “End of the World, Beginning of Everything,” Luna Station Quarterly 52 (2022): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Content note: Sudden death.

After the narrator’s husband leaves her, she takes advantage of the opportunity to move to California and try to become an actress. Instead, she ends up in Colorado, landing a job as a ghost tour guide. There are many ways you might think the story would go, from this premise — but I can guarantee you that none of them are what happens! This was a novel story told in a fresh, distinctive voice. Good stuff!

REVIEW: “Live Oak” by Carly Racklin

Review of Carly Racklin, “Live Oak,” Luna Station Quarterly 52 (2022): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Rory and Finn have just moved to a new house, and it’s not the happily ever after they hoped for. The big tree looming over Rory’s bedroom is clearly haunted — but whoever heard of a haunted tree? Maybe truth of the matter is even deeper and darker than they can imagine.

A lovely creepy little forest horror story.

REVIEW: “Lost and Found; Retreat and Return” by Emma Schmid

Review of Emma Schmid, “Lost and Found; Retreat and Return,” Luna Station Quarterly 52 (2022): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This story made me explicitly realise something I’d noticed implicitly over the last year or two: There seems to be an increasing number of fantasy stories which revolve around a single character, alone, and reflective of her (almost always her!) circumstances. I wonder whether the isolation of the pandemic has contributed to the rise in both the writing and the publishing of this sort story, if we’ve sort of collectively forgotten what it is like to live in a bustling world with many people overlapping.

Told well, these stories can be incredibly enjoyable and rewarding — but they do tend to blur together, and feel all of a same piece. The beginning of Schmid’s story was just that: Well crafted, but very similar to some of the others in this same issue of LSQ. However, when the second character finally showed up, then things started getting interesting and by the end I was well sucked in.

REVIEW: “Of Wood and Flame” by Anna Madden

Review of Anna Madden, “Of Wood and Flame,” Luna Station Quarterly 52 (2022): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

There’s plenty of stories out there about foundling children raised by animals, but much fewer about foundling children raised by trees. I would have liked to know a bit more about how Holly ended up abandoned in the forest, and how Fossil knew about her past; but these are minor quibbles about an otherwise enjoyable story. Plus: a bonus dragon!

REVIEW: “Linden’s Legends” by ZQ Taylor

Review of ZQ Taylor, “Linden’s Legends,” Luna Station Quarterly 52 (2022): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This was a slow, meandering story, a series of excerpts told from the point of view of a linden tree. I think I would have liked it more if the narrator had felt more tree-like, more foreign, less just an ordinary character. But there were bits in it that I really loved, such as the love between the tree and two lovers who courted within its branches. It felt so very joyous and pure.