REVIEW: “Heaven-Bound” by Hayli McClain

Review of Hayli McClain, “Heaven-Bound”, Luna Station Quarterly 45 (2021): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

College student Ann — disowned by her family, with no friends or connections, no one to miss her — goes off into the woods one night, intending to disappearing. Instead, she meets Percy, who is trying to pull down the moon, and all in the name of true love.

This was an absolutely adorable and delightful love story and I really enjoyed it!

REVIEW: “Skyboss” by Rocky Breen

Review of Rocky Breen, “Skyboss”, Luna Station Quarterly 44 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Camille has dreamed of going to the stars ever since third grade, and while a chance to cover the Strato Circus’s show in honor of the comet Stephan-Oterma isn’t quite the same thing, it’s still closer than anything else she’s achieved — but the assignment isn’t without its dangers, or its costs.

For being set in the future, there was a delightfully steam-punk feel to this story. It was also exceptionally realistic; every step of Camille’s journey into the stratosphere felt believable and relatable. This was a seriously gripping story which I really enjoyed.

REVIEW: “Crab Pots” by Amanda Baldeneaux

Review of Amanda Baldeneaux, “Crab Pots”, Luna Station Quarterly 44 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Skyla’s life is ordinary, mundane, and miserable — husband, two children, no more job once she had her children, doing all the parenting while her husband loafs amongst the crab pots. “Weekends always made her feel like a failure,” we are told, and it that sentence I, and I am sure many other readers will see themselves reflected. The most exciting thing in her life is the gift of a new bikini, and even that comes with demands. There’s no way she could wear it without at least getting waxed. “If her family would just leave her alone she could get everything done without falling behind” — another line that will hit close to home for many mothers.

It’s a cliche to say “everything changes when” but everything does change for Skyla when Gwyn, the optometrist’s office manager, invites Skyla and her sons to an anti-circus protest — after all, mermaids weren’t meant for captivity.

REVIEW: “The Legend of Emma Sondheim” by Priscilla Kint

Review of Priscilla Kint, “The Legend of Emma Sondheim”, Luna Station Quarterly 44 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Emma works in a timetraveling circus, the only life she’s ever known. No one ever leaves the building that houses the circus, because no one ever knows when the circus might decide to up and leave to another time, leaving them stranded where they are forever. But Emma is tired of being trapped, and willing to risk anything to escape.

I thought this was a novel take on the topic, and felt that Kint’s story captured the sinisterness of circuses exceptionally well.

REVIEW: “The Dog and Pony Show” by Piper

Review of Piper, “The Dog and Pony Show”, Luna Station Quarterly 44 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

There were bits and parts of the story I really liked — the description “The reality-broken world was dangerous, with so many structures and safeguards failing, and so many people failed to manage themselves or cope or be kind in their new circumstances” felt very real in our post-Covid world — while other parts, especially towards the beginning, I found too disjointed and didactic for my tastes. It wasn’t until the very end of the story that the twist came that made this a distinctive circus story, rewarding the reader for their perseverance.

REVIEW: “Silks” by Jennifer Lyn Parsons

Review of Jennifer Lyn Parsons, “Silks”, Luna Station Quarterly 44 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This was the third circus-themed story I’d read in this issue of LSQ, which prompted me to actually read the editorial — the entire issue is circus-themed, so maybe I should not have been so surprised to be reading so many circus stories!

I liked this one for its wlw storyline, but I felt it was rather lacking on actual story content.

REVIEW: “Of Buckwheat and Garlic Braids” by Adriana C. Grigore

Review of Adriana C. Grigore, “Of Buckwheat and Garlic Braids”, in Liane Tsui and Grace Seybold, eds., A Quiet Afternoon (Grace & Victory Publictions, 2020): 79-91 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

This delightful story was suffused through with Romanian cultural influences — I love it when fantasy stories opt for something other than “generic European”! Toma’s world is filled with strigoi and moroi, creatures that can be banished, or at least distracted by, garlic and buckwheat. Despite this, it’s a warm, cozy world filled with strong friendships and familial networks, making it a perfect capping off of a lovely anthology.

REVIEW: “Sarah, Spare Some Change” by Ziggy Schutz

Review of Ziggy Schutz, “Sarah, Spare Some Change”, in Liane Tsui and Grace Seybold, eds., A Quiet Afternoon (Grace & Victory Publictions, 2020): 39-43 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

This is the story of two Sarahs, the right Sarah and the wrong Sarah, who have nothing in common except for their name and the fact that they don’t like the required daily religious exercise in school, where they must separate their souls from their bodies. Together, they rebel, casting bets and trading secrets during that hour instead, and find a secret that changes their world. A sweet little story.

REVIEW: “The Baker’s Cat” by Elizabeth Hart Bergstrom

Review of Elizabeth Hart Bergstrom, “The Baker’s Cat”, in Liane Tsui and Grace Seybold, eds., A Quiet Afternoon (Grace & Victory Publictions, 2020): 1-11 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

Karina’s mother seemed to know the knack of making every type of cookie and bun and cake, but none of that skill passed on to Karina herself. Her loaves were flat, her cookies were hard, she burnt everything — eventually Karina decided she must be cursed. And not only when it came to baking, but in every aspect of her life! Until one night when Karina wishes upon a star, and a cat turns up on her doorstep, and everything changes, in proper fairy tale fashion.

Cakes and cats? A match made in heaven. Reading this made me hungry! So many delicious descriptions of baked goods.