REVIEW: “While the Black Stars Burn” by Lucy A. Snyder

Review of Lucy A. Snyder, “While the Black Stars Burn”, Apex Magazine 100: Read Online. Reviewed by Joanna Z. Weston.

This is a story about scars, both literal and figurative. Caroline is a gifted violinist, but her enjoyment of the art is tainted by her father’s expectations and abuse (Please consider that a trigger warning). I am not generally a horror fan, but I deeply enjoyed the blend of real work and fantastical horror at work here. Caroline is a rich, fully developed character, and her experiences broke my heart and chilled my spine.

The story builds up the ordinary world of Caroline’s life beautifully, providing a solid ground for the supernatural horror that is to come. I’ve heard that it’s important to establish a story’s genre immediately, but in this case the slow build pays off in the end.

The ending is one of unearned consequences. Caroline does not deserve the things that have happened to her, but at the same time, she can not escape them. It’s not a happy ending, but I’ve been mulling over it for days. It refuses to let me go, which is the mark of a powerful story.

Recommended for people who like their horror mixed in with the real world.