REVIEW: “Penumbra” by Chris Brecheen

Review of Chris Brecheen, “Penumbra”, in Myths, Monsters, and Mutations, edited by Jessica Augustsson (JayHenge Publications, 2017): 168-177. — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

Brecheen’s story is urban fantasy, set in San Francisco, as we can tell from references to BART stations and other familiar aspects of the city. It’s a first-person story, and unlike many first-person stories which start off with a bunch of introspective maundering, here we were immediately introduced both to the personality quirks of the narrator (rather bitter and a bit sarcastic) and of the people the narrator interacts with, such as Dr. Cienica, who “pays lots of attention to how dirty her glasses are whenever she lies” (168).

I really enjoyed Brecheen’s use of language; there were turns of phrase every paragraph or so that made me smile. If you read for enjoyment, then this is a good story for you. If you read for a creepy feeling of displacement, and the sense that the setting of the story is shifted from our own reality by only a fraction, then this is also a story for you. It doesn’t take much imagination to wonder what it would take for people to be able to see the Penumbra here, in our own world.