REVIEW: “A Tally of What Remains” by R.Z. Held

Review of R.Z. Held, “A Tally of What Remains”, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue 313 (September 24, 2020): Read online. Reviewed by Richard Lohmeyer.

The final story in BCS’s twelfth anniversary issue is a very good one. Its themes are loss and grief and hope restored amidst a sort of plague—themes that strongly resonate in this year of the pandemic. The story features two characters who are not as different as they first appear. Helena, a blood mage, finds her magic to be of little help in maintaining the small family farm where she struggles to aid survivors of the Fever who have found refuge in her barn. One of these survivors, Benedict, is reeling from the death of his husband, while Helena can’t get past the guilt of being the only member of her family to survive the Fever. Each needs to grieve and move on; instead, they take their anger out on each other. As time passes, only Benedict seems willing to confront his feelings and work through them. But when another tragedy strikes, both characters find consolation in the strength, compassion, and friendship of the other and soon begin to look forward in hope to a brighter future.  

REVIEW: “Truth as a Prize” by R. Z. Held

Review of R. Z. Held, “Truth as a Prize”, Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue 299 (March 12, 2020): Read online. Reviewed by Richard Lohmeyer.

It’s rare that I dislike a story in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, but this is one of those unhappy occasions. It’s not that Held’s story is badly written. However, it’s premise—Naomi is a ghost trapped within and attempting to outwit a malevolent game whose origin is never explained—didn’t work for me. To be fair, it’s worth noting that another, far more prominent reviewer, has praised this story, so perhaps my reaction is an outlier. Nevertheless, I finished the story more out of a sense of obligation than pleasure.