REVIEW: “Emily and the What-If Imp” by Gwynne Garfinkle

Review of Gwynne Garfinkle, “Emily and the What-If Imp,” Fantasy Magazine 72 (October 2021): 16-17 — Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

I think lots of people, especially people who take solace in reading and writing speculative fiction, have What-If imps of their own, hanging around and making unwarranted trouble, or if not a What-If imp, one of its cousins. But I think there is some solace in reading this story, whatever kind of imp you’ve got.

REVIEW: “The Oak Tree” by Liz Baxmeyer

Review of Liz Baxmeyer, “The Oak Tree,” Luna Station Quarterly 52 (2022): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Dara is out haunting the oak tree when she surprises a stranger, Muriel, who is desperately seeking something. The folk songs that Dara sings, scattered throughout the story, emphasised the folk-tale nature of the story; but there was rather too much explaining rather than story-telling for it to quite work for me.

REVIEW: “Live Oak” by Carly Racklin

Review of Carly Racklin, “Live Oak,” Luna Station Quarterly 52 (2022): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Rory and Finn have just moved to a new house, and it’s not the happily ever after they hoped for. The big tree looming over Rory’s bedroom is clearly haunted — but whoever heard of a haunted tree? Maybe truth of the matter is even deeper and darker than they can imagine.

A lovely creepy little forest horror story.

REVIEW: “Lost and Found; Retreat and Return” by Emma Schmid

Review of Emma Schmid, “Lost and Found; Retreat and Return,” Luna Station Quarterly 52 (2022): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This story made me explicitly realise something I’d noticed implicitly over the last year or two: There seems to be an increasing number of fantasy stories which revolve around a single character, alone, and reflective of her (almost always her!) circumstances. I wonder whether the isolation of the pandemic has contributed to the rise in both the writing and the publishing of this sort story, if we’ve sort of collectively forgotten what it is like to live in a bustling world with many people overlapping.

Told well, these stories can be incredibly enjoyable and rewarding — but they do tend to blur together, and feel all of a same piece. The beginning of Schmid’s story was just that: Well crafted, but very similar to some of the others in this same issue of LSQ. However, when the second character finally showed up, then things started getting interesting and by the end I was well sucked in.

REVIEW: “Of Wood and Flame” by Anna Madden

Review of Anna Madden, “Of Wood and Flame,” Luna Station Quarterly 52 (2022): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

There’s plenty of stories out there about foundling children raised by animals, but much fewer about foundling children raised by trees. I would have liked to know a bit more about how Holly ended up abandoned in the forest, and how Fossil knew about her past; but these are minor quibbles about an otherwise enjoyable story. Plus: a bonus dragon!

REVIEW: “Linden’s Legends” by ZQ Taylor

Review of ZQ Taylor, “Linden’s Legends,” Luna Station Quarterly 52 (2022): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This was a slow, meandering story, a series of excerpts told from the point of view of a linden tree. I think I would have liked it more if the narrator had felt more tree-like, more foreign, less just an ordinary character. But there were bits in it that I really loved, such as the love between the tree and two lovers who courted within its branches. It felt so very joyous and pure.

REVIEW: “Break Fresh Ground” by Callie S. Blackstone

Review of Callie S. Blackstone, “Break Fresh Ground,” Luna Station Quarterly 52 (2022): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

The narrator’s grandmother has died, and bequeathed to her house, her two apple trees, and her store of herbs in the pantry. We the reader get to explore all three of these along with the narrator in this beautiful story of love and loss and memory, and the entwining of ancient Irish myth with modern Catholic ritual.

REVIEW: “The Beginning” by Katrina Carruth

Review of Katrina Carruth, “The Beginning,” Luna Station Quarterly 52 (2022): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

There’s a nice mythological feel to this story, which is set “before the earth was your Earth and the heavens were your heavens,” and tells of a tree, born from a seed that fell from the stars and grew to be the mother of all life. It had the potential to be a neat story, but it was told in a rather heavy-handed and didactic way, which wasn’t entirely to my taste, and ended rather abruptly. It felt like a strong first draft, not quite honed to its best form.