This is the first time I’ve reviewed a story with a repeat title (cf. “Frost” by ‘Nathan Burgoine). But this is a very different sort of story than Burgoine’s fairy tale. This story is told in sparse, spare sentences with a tight, quick structure that reflects not only the tension and anxiety that Hu Tao wears on her sleeve but the same nerves that the unnamed narrator seeks to mask with a calm clarity of purpose.
The entire story is so short that it feels like a handful pebbles. But they are exquisite pebbles, and the way the author shifts POV partway through the story illustrates the old adage that rules are made to be broken, and Spillard breaks some canonical rules in the most perfect and necessary way. I enjoyed this short story very much.