REVIEW: “Prism” by Stefanie Elrick

Review of Stefanie Elrick, “Prism”, Apex Magazine 111 (2018): Read Online. Reviewed by Joanna Z. Weston.

A woman sits in a room full of mirrors and seeks to understand her sister’s mysterious death, pouring over her journals and the belongings she left behind. Through meditation, she discovers what happened and resolves to do what she can to fix it.

This is a hard story to discuss without spoilers, as it is essentially a mystery. To ruin that would ruin the story, and that would be a real shame, because it has a lot of offer, and I personally enjoyed it immensely. The speculative elements take awhile to show up, but when they do – in the form of a concert cum summoning ritual gone awry – everything comes into focus. Which is not to say that the earlier parts are lesser; the story is well-paced from beginning to end, introducing plot elements with just enough explanation to keep you reading.

It took me awhile to parse the ending – which I will not spoil for you – but once I figured it out, I loved how it riffed on the mirror themes and imagery that saturated the story from the beginning. In fact, the way that mirrors weave through the narrative is downright cunning.

This is a great story for anyone who likes a good old-fashioned demon or elder god summoning, but with paired with an introspective, character driven point-of-view.