REVIEW: “The Transubstantiation” by Evan Dicken

Review of Evan Dicken, “The Transubstantiation”, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue 310 (August 13, 2020); read online. Reviewed by Richard Lohmeyer.

Deff is the narrator of this interesting, but decidedly unusual take on the nature of heroes. He is part of a small group of “glory hounds” who trap and kill heroes in order to sell their bodies on the black market. Often this brings a high price since a hero’s blood can be used as a skin treatment that leaves a person’s face looking “smooth as marble and sheened with a pale glow.” In spite of the monetary rewards, Deff regrets this practice, though he justifies it by reminding himself that heroes always break bad. One case in point is the Weeper, the hunt for whom is what most of the story involves. The Weeper is “the woman who had toppled Empires, burned entire nations in the name of justice, made promise after promise then abandoned us when the payment came due.” Her form of abandonment was novel, at least. She somehow climbed all the way to Heaven searching for truth. However, the truth as she relates it leaves her in despair, but fills Deff with a very different emotion.  

REVIEW: “All of Us Told, All of It Real” by Evan Dicken

Review of Evan Dicken, “All of Us Told, All of It Real”, Strange Horizons 9 Apr. 2018: Read online. Reviewed by Danielle Maurer.

Well, this one certainly made me go “hmmm.”

“All of Us Told, All of It Real” follows our narrator Martin as he returns home to the small town of Dawson. His mother is dead, and bodies were found in her basement. As he prepares to sell the house and goes through his mother’s hoarded things, he reflects on his life growing up with her–and stumbles upon a disconcerting revelation.

The story is beautifully crafted; Dicken really nails the small-town, “everyone-knows-everyone” feel early in the piece. The level of attention paid to details heightens the story’s creepiness, because when everything feels real, those few things that are off seem even more so.

And at its core, this is a story about story, about memory, about what makes us real. The theme that runs through the piece shows up early and becomes more and more prominent as we slowly clue in to what, exactly, Martin’s mother was doing. It certainly gives new meaning to the “kill your darlings” adage.

Despite a slow start, this story’s central mystery unravels into a satisfying, if a little hair-raising, conclusion.