There was a lot of world-building stuffed into this story; so much so, I almost didn’t see the story itself at times. The story itself is rather gruesome, laced with misogyny, full of murder and the hunting of faery brides. At the end of the massacre of the faeries that happened when Tirra was just a girl, an agreement was made between the human world and the faery world “for faery brides to be reborn from dead fae” and this agreement “had been the only chance at mending the wounds between this world and Faeryland” — but the piece that I was missing is why would Faeryland ever want to mend those wounds that had been inflicted upon them, unprompted and premeditated? If I were a faery and this had happened to my people, I would have had nothing to do with humans ever again: A man’s loneliness is never an excuse to kill someone.
Review of Suzanne J. Willis, “Heartwood, Sapwood, Spring”, in Aidan Doyle, Rachael K. Jones, and E. Catherine Tobler, Sword and Sonnet (Ate Bit Bear, 2018) — 163-172. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)
This is the first story in the anthology to be set in the future — a post-apocalyptic future where humanity has broken into factions and the enemy fears the power of the written word. In such a world, libraries become the bastions of rebellion and words tattooed upon skin provide one last barrier of protection — tattoos made from ink created from the ashes of the books that were burned, libraries filled with books made of word indelible not upon vellum but upon a different sort of skin.
This story in all rights should be horribly, terribly gruesome and macabre. But it just isn’t, and that is what makes it so magical.