Review of Mathew Scaletta, “The Sound a Raven Makes”, in Steve Berman, ed., Wilde Stories 2017: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction (Lethe Press, 2017): 104-120 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)
He yearned for the spark that would flare against the low alder and tall draping hemlock that surrounded the compound. He yearned for the bloom that would illuminate them all. His gaze shifted between the fireweed, his lover, and finally onto the muskeg plain that started at the bottom of the hill and stretched for miles until it slammed into foothills of another devastated mountain.
Ash works with his grandmother and uncle in a meat processing facility in southeastern Alaska, taking in the kills of rich men who fly in to hunt there and butchering them, smoking them, turning them into teriyaki—it all seems perfectly ordinary enough reading until the first customer arrives and Scaletta skirts deftly around the issue of what it is that is being hunted. Same with the next, and the next, until I’m getting increasingly anxious because I know it can’t be anything good.
Spoiler: It’s not anything good.
Such darkness needs to be balanced by light, and in this story that light comes in the form of Ash’s love for JB and JB’s for him. It is a peculiar little story, but that thread running through it lifts it from being just a little too depressing for me.
(Originally published in Gigantosaurus 2016).