Review of R.H. Cloake, “Satin and Velvet”, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue 309 (July 30, 2020): Read online. Reviewed by Richard Lohmeyer.
This is primarily a story about “imposter syndrome” and why so many good, talented people often believe themselves unworthy of success. Greta, the narrator, is the youngest-ever apprentice to a centuries-old master magician. While still an aspiring apprentice she had met and admired Samara, her predescessor. Greta is “plagued,” like Samara before her, by “gasts.” Greta’s are satin; Samara’s were velvet, but all gasts are magical entities that befriend, for no immediately apparent reason, some people and not others. For example, The Master both apprentices serve(d) has never been befriended by gasts and it enrages him. He vents his anger on each apprentice by refusing to give them lessons for as long as their gasts assist them and not him. Each apprentice learns a different lesson from this experience. One of them commits suicide in despair, while the other has an entirely different experience. This is a brief story but well worth reading, particularly if, like so many others, you’ve ever talked yourself into believing you don’t deserve success.