I found this story very unnerving, the way it wove in a thread of mythos that was firmly grounded in fundamentalist Christianity and capitalism. I read it all in one gulp, almost breathless, so powerfully did it suck me in and drag me along.
This is a story of a story, set in ancient Greece where a story teller recites the tales for each season — counting tales “a more pleasant way of counting the seasons than taxes”. This particular story that the story teller tells us of is of two horses born to the same mare six weeks apart. Is this a miracle of nature? Is it divine intervention? Are the horses gods? Or silly young foals to be sacrificed to the gods? No one knew what to do, except one person, and he was not consulted: And so that is how the titular curse came about. No one thought to ask one of the most important twin gods what he thought, and Apollo felt slighted…
The best myths are ones where you aren’t entirely sure what is real and what is not. This story feels like it could’ve come straight out of the Homeric tradition of classical Greek mythology, though it’s not a myth that I recognise — whether this is because of a fault in myself or because the story is truly new, I do not know. Either way, I enjoyed it.
Any man might create a Palm Bride…It’s made of dreams.
I love me a good historically-influenced fantasy story, and Hurlburt’s story set in St. Augustine-of-the-past, -of-the-not-quite-here-and-now, delivers.
The setting of the story is post-war, when those who returned from the fight are still alive but now old and grey, and the war is near enough so that the uneasy tension between black and white remains, along with the uncomfortable matter of unchaperoned, unmarried young girls. Miss Randolph has traveled to St. Augustine from Seneca Falls to pursue a matter of ghosts, or spirits, but what she finds at Mrs. Cobb’s mansion, Villa Reina, is not at all what she expects. That which inhabits the Palm Bride is “a spirit now, and a bit livelier than most, but there was a time in which she was a goddess”. Miss Randolph is there both to study the spirit and exorcise it.
It’s a pretty standard ghost story; I kept waiting for some twist at the end, but I never quite got it.