REVIEW: “i shall remain” by Kai Cheng Thom

Review of Kai Cheng Thom, “i shall remain” in Gwen Benaway, ed., Mother, Maiden, Crone, (Bedside Press, 2019): 97-107 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

This was a rich, sensual story full of old myth and modern realism, and threaded through with a gruesome interpretation of Christianity (I don’t know if this was intended or not, but it certainly read that way to me). It was distinctly different from the rest of the stories in the anthology, not only in content and in choice of trans characters, but also in its literary style, with a systemic eschewing of capitals except for proper names and phrases, and sometimes (but not always) “I”. I think this was my favorite story of the volume.

REVIEW: “Undoing Vampirism” by Lilah Sturges

Review of Lilah Sturges, “Undoing Vampirism” in Gwen Benaway, ed., Mother, Maiden, Crone, (Bedside Press, 2019): 92-96 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

Vampire stories have been so overdone in recent years that whenever I come across another one, I admit, I sigh a bit.

But there were NO SIGHS whatsoever in this hilarious (“but I realized even then that the desires to be a girl and to eat them are unconnected” p. 94), unpredictable, unexpected take on modern-day vampires. I absolutely loved it.

REVIEW: “The Knighting” by Alexa Fae McDaniel

Review of Alexa Fae McDaniel, “The Knighting” in Gwen Benaway, ed., Mother, Maiden, Crone, (Bedside Press, 2019): 83-91 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

Daphne has long admired Sir Thais — the first woman of Epirus to ever have been knighted. Now, two more women have become knights, but female knights are still the minority. Part of Daphne longs to be what Sir Thais is, but another part of her knows she could never be what Sir Thais is; not because she’s a woman, but because she’s a transwoman.

The focus of this story was Daphne’s grappling with the difficulties of being a transwoman in a male dominated field. As a cis woman, I realised I would probably make many of the same arguments that Sir Thais did, to persuade Daphne to take up the accolade; so it was important for me to read Daphne’s arguments in return. Now, I’m not so sure which choice Daphne should make, or even, at the end of the story, which choice she did make.

REVIEW: “Freeing the Bitch” by Ellen Mellor

Review of Ellen Mellor, “Freeing the Bitch” in Gwen Benaway, ed., Mother, Maiden, Crone, (Bedside Press, 2019): 65-82 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

Content warning: Explicit misgendering and some internalised transphobia.

It’s funny the little things that can catch you out when reading a story: I was so distracted by the fact that two of the MCs started a forest fire and then proceeded to do nothing about it (including showing remorse) that I could hardly pay attention to the rest of what was going on.

That distraction aside, I enjoyed the multi-species cast (all varying flavors of queerness!), and can’t help but approve of a story that tells us: “There is nothing we can’t do because we are amazing women” (p. 72).

REVIEW: “Potions and Practices” by gwynception

Review of gwynception, “Potions and Practices” in Gwen Benaway, ed., Mother, Maiden, Crone, (Bedside Press, 2019): 50-64 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

I’m not sure if this story suffered from a lack of thorough proofreading, or if the duplicated phrases and weird sentences that felt like they were missing words were intentional, but whichever is the explanation, I found the prose of this story difficult to read; quite a bit of the time, I really wasn’t sure what was going on. Then again, the same is also said by Violet, the MC: “I’m sorry I’m not sure if I know what you’re talking about” (p. 52), so maybe the gappy and repetitive writing was intentional. I’m afraid, though, that this wasn’t a story for me.

REVIEW: “The Vixen, With Death Pursuing” by Izzy Wasserstein

Review of Izzy Wasserstein, “The Vixen, With Death Pursuing” in Gwen Benaway, ed., Mother, Maiden, Crone, (Bedside Press, 2019): 39-49 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

The titular death that is pursuing the vulpemancer is a pestimancer, a pestilence-mage. He first attacked Ravenna, the fox-mage’s lover, and how the fox-mage is the only one left who can find the herbs that will heal Ravenna and all the other struck down by blood lung. But in order to escape the vulpemancer and bring the herbs back, the fox-mage is faced with a dangerous, and potentially life-altering choice.

In this strongly written, compelling story, Wasserstein gives us a different take on what being trans.

REVIEW: “Forest’s Edge” by Audrey Vest

Review of Audrey Vest, “Forest’s Edge” in Gwen Benaway, ed., Mother, Maiden, Crone, (Bedside Press, 2019): 26-38 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

Denya’s daughter, Eliya, is ill — caught in the clutches of a fairy chill that only fey broth can cure. For that, Denya must go into the woods that are the gateway to Fairy, into the very forest that her wife Bren went into three years ago and never came back out of.

There was never any doubt that this story would have a happy ending, but that doesn’t make the happy ending any less satisfying.