REVIEW: Fall Flash Contest+Halloween

Review of H.L. Fullerton, “What You Ate Eats At You”, Syntax and Salt Fall Flash Contest, October 2017: Read Online. Reviewed by Tiffany Crystal

As much as I like Syntax and Salt, I’ve learned that I don’t like all of the work they feature. This one, in particular wasn’t to my taste. Maybe because I was expecting something more….Halloween-y? I guess? It was an entry for a Fall Flash Contest, so the mistake is all mine, but still. And it was fixated on food. I found myself skimming it, just to get through the story. I couldn’t get into it. At all. If there was a redeeming point to the story, it was that it ended.

Honestly, if this was the third place winner, I’m scared to think of what didn’t make it.

Review of Wendy Wimmer, “Feðgin”, Syntax and Salt Fall Flash Contest, October 2017: Read Online. Reviewed by Tiffany Crystal

This story confused me at first. The character’s father is a villain? There were explosions? Death ray, what? Then I got further into it, and…well, if you’re a Republican in the United States, you might want to skip this story completely. I’m not, so I enjoyed it immensely. I wasn’t quite filled with evil glee, but close.

Okay, back on track: the story is very short and simple. There are some questions left unanswered, which, as I’ve stated before, I hate, but it doesn’t really detract from the story, so I can bear it. And I have learned a new word, so bonus! Maybe just for me, but eh. You can’t win them all.

This story was the second place winner in Syntax and Salt’s fall flash contest.

(FYI: “Feðgin” means “Father and Daughter” apparently. Yay for learning!)

Review of Jennifer R. Donohue, “Aground, Upon the Sand”, Syntax and Salt Fall Flash Contest, October 2017: Read Online. Reviewed by Tiffany Crystal

As soon as I saw the author’s name, I knew this was going to be good, and I was right. I’m not entirely sure it deserved first place in Syntax and Salt’s fall flash contest, but it was still a good read. Another short and simple work, this one is best enjoyed with some background knowledge of selkie mythology.

Review of Mariel Tishma, “Wax and Wane”, Syntax and Salt Halloween Special, October 2017: Read Online. Reviewed by Tiffany Crystal

Well. Huh. Um, not sure what to say. Mariel Tishma has a very interesting way with words, and I certainly wish her the best of luck convincing her editor that she’s not just a pile of squirrels, but I’m a little thrown by this piece.

The character is a witch or a sorcerer, it appears, and so is their love(?) interest. If I read/understood the story correctly, the main character is in a love/hate relationship with the other witch. Or maybe the love interest isn’t a witch at all, and is just portrayed as one because of the “spell” she cast on the character? It’s hard to tell, honestly, but it is a well wrote piece and worth a read.

REVIEW: “Piece by Piece” by Sean Woznicki

Review of Sean Woznicki, “Piece by Piece”, Syntax and Salt 4, 2017: Read Online. Reviewed by Tiffany Crystal

I’m not even sure what to say about this work. I’m the type that hates questions left unanswered, and this short story leaves way too many for my taste. There’s not even a suggestion of why the events in the story happen. Is it because of the woman? Is that why he loses nothing when he spends the night at his own home? If it’s the woman though, wouldn’t this be something she knew to look out for? Wouldn’t she be less horrified at finding his eyes?

I mean, in the beginning, she was entirely too blasé about the toe and the finger, and even the tongue, so I suspected it was entirely her fault, and that she knew about it. But her reaction to the eyes threw me. Perhaps her reaction is supposed to throw the audience, but it still doesn’t give you any answers.

Overall, for me, the story was frustrating because of the lack of answers, and hard to enjoy. It might’ve been different if we were at least given a reason to care about what was going on, but we aren’t even given that.

Oh well, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Hopefully others will enjoy it more than I did. At least it wasn’t badly written. It just wasn’t to my taste.

REVIEW: “Belong to Me” by Rachel Harrison

Review of Rachel Harrison, “Belong to Me”, Syntax and Salt 4, 2017: Read Online. Reviewed by Tiffany Crystal

Well, gee, this one isn’t creepy as all get out or anything. It’s sunshine and lollipops, and okay, that’s enough sarcasm for now.

For something that starts out as a love story (kinda), the end is…huh. Rachel Harrison takes you through a tale that is, on the surface, anyway, similar to the premise of “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” If the best friend was a Martian, and the other woman was the main character’s other best friend.

Okay, so the comparison isn’t the best, but it’s better than using “Coneheads,” and the point remains. The story really shouldn’t be as creepy as it is, though to be fair, the creepy part is entirely conjecture. You aren’t given enough information to justify the chills that start creeping in, but you also aren’t given any reason to not get them.

Is the cousin telling the truth? Or was he lying? Where are all the Martian women? Who does Becky care about more? All it says is that she discovers who she loves more. The story leaves you with so many questions that demand answers, but in a way that you can’t really be mad at the author for.

And guys? It has aliens. Aliens. And UFO’s. Am I entirely too happy about that? Possibly. Go read it anyway. (Aliens!)

REVIEW: “Earth Music” by Jennifer Lee Rossman

Review of Jennifer Lee Rossman, “Earth Music”, Syntax and Salt 4, 2017: Read Online. Reviewed by Tiffany Crystal

I really really like this work. I love the premise, and I loved how Ve is blind, but was still allowed on the trip. Instead of her people thinking that she was defective and leaving her behind, they brought her with them to Earth, and I love that. I love how, even without looking it up, I knew exactly what song was included on that disk, the one that Ve was so obsessed with. I love the way Ms. Rossman lets us imagine the aliens the way we want to, while still giving us hints of how they’re different from us.

I absolutely adore Ve, just all around. Something about her…she just seems sweet. Like one of those people you see and you instantly want to smile and hug them. Those are some of my favorite people, and that’s the vibe I get from her. I love how she comes across as intelligent, or intuitive, at least. She knows she has a weakness, but she thinks of how she can use it as a strength for her people. She isn’t afraid to put herself on the line, to try and ensure the best for her people. I love so much about the story, and most of it centers around Ve…which makes sense, considering she’s the focus of the story, but anyway.

The ending, ah, the ending. It’s so bittersweet. I can’t decide if I like it the way it is, or if I’m mad cause there’s not more to read. Either way, this is a gem, and I recommend it.

REVIEW: “Blood-Stained Letters Found in a Roadside Shrine on the Outskirts of Kyoto” by Stewart C. Baker

Review of Stewart C. Baker, “Blood-stained Letters Found in a Roadside Shrine on the Outskirts of Kyoto”, Syntax and Salt 4, 2017: Read Online. Reviewed by Tiffany Crystal

This one sucks you in. I didn’t think I was going to like it at first, to be honest. I’m really not fond of first person POV, whether it’s in the form of a letter or journal, or, well..anything. So I saw this and resigned myself to misery. That lasted about, oh, three minutes? Give or take? Then I started going “….waiiit a minute….” By the end, I was leaning forward on my elbows, nose thisfar from the monitor, and probably looking like an absolute loon.

So now I’m left with a different problem. I have to review this story, but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, either. Some of you, if you know anything about Japanese mythology will probably be able to figure out what’s going on before it gets to the end. The rest of you though…well, you might just find yourself browsing through Wikipedia for more information. The story…shouldn’t be cute, but it kinda is? Mostly because of the mental image I have of the person writing the letters. Ahh, I don’t want to spoil anything. Let’s just say, at the end? The story is no longer cute. It is a story of bloody revenge that is very satisfying.

I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.

REVIEW: “Mourners” by Joe Baumann

Review of Joe Baumann, “Mourners”, Syntax and Salt 4, 2017: Read Online. Reviewed by Tiffany Crystal

I read a story once about a person who woke up and had completely forgotten how to read. He could write, but he was unable to read the words that he had wrote. He had to relearn the sounds each letter made, and how they went together to form words. The premise of “Mourners” is very similar to that idea, but instead of a mental ability, the people woke up missing body parts. One person woke up without feet, another without eyes. Someone else lost their nose, and a famous singer lost their vocal cords.

The author never goes into why it happened, a decision I’m not entirely sure I agree or disagree with, but he does a good job of painting a picture of how people might react to the sudden change. The “why” of it still bugs me though. Was it mother nature getting revenge? Was it aliens? Was it a shifting of realities?

The last one is the only one that makes sense, to me, considering that there was no blood or anything when the body parts went missing. They just disappeared as if they had never been there in the first place. I would love to hear other theories, so feel free to read and share your thoughts on the matter.

REVIEW: “Singularity Alice” by Lorraine Schein

Review of Lorraine Schein, “Singularity Alice”, Syntax and Salt 4, 2017: Read Online. Reviewed by Tiffany Crystal

No sugar coating, no lying: I was bored. I was expecting so much more, especially when I saw that it was a human exploring a supermassive black hole. I have been fascinated by that very idea since I was eight, okay? So you can imagine my disappointment when I found myself skimming – skimming – through it, trying to see if it picked up along the way. It didn’t. I kept finding myself adding “with zombies” at the end of sentences, thinking maybe it was just too passive voiced. I finally just had to admit that I was bored because it was…well, boring.

I’m willing to cut it some slack though. I liked the “White Hole” ending, and it’s possible I was just too excited about the idea, and was unfairly biased. I suggest reading it for yourself, just to be on the safe side.