REVIEW: “The Wishing Pool” by Tananarive Due

Review of Tananarive Due, “The Wishing Pool”, Uncanny Magazine Issue 41 (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Isabel Hinchliff.

When Joy visits her ailing father in the family cabin that she lived in as a child, she is forced to confront her memories about a small puddle in the forest that seemed to grant wishes in unexpected and sometimes tragic ways. Now that she’s an adult, Joy knows that the pool doesn’t really have any power, but is she desperate enough to wish for something anyway?

This heart-wrenching story confronts the realities of ageing parents head-on. While it’s definitely not a lighthearted read, I would recommend it for those who would like a more gritty and realistic take on a classic fairy tale theme. If nothing else, the ending will hit you right in the gut.

REVIEW: “Fugue State” by Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due

Review of Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due, “Fugue State”, Apex Magazine 120 (2019): Read Online. Reviewed by Joanna Z. Weston.

Charlotte is struggling with some dementia-like changes in her husband, Arthur. Since taking a new job advising a popular fundamentalist preacher, Arthur has transformed from a brilliant political correspondent at the paper where they both work, to somehow who struggles to sound out the word “acetaminophen” or understand that it is Tylenol. When a stranger tells Charlotte that the preacher is up to something terrible, and that she has to go to his event that night and stop him, Charlotte thinks that maybe she has found a way to understand what is happening to her husband.

Despite what you might think from the summary, this is a slowly building horror story. Yes, it centers a relationship, but that is not what the story is ultimately about. What is it about? That’s harder to say, because it is so subtle, and so rich. It’s about relationships, yes. It’s about wanting to understand a loved one, and thus acting against what might be your better judgment. It’s also about mind control, and about the comfort that can be found after giving up your free will to someone or something more confident than yourself. It’s absolutely terrifying. This is psychological horror at some of its best, holding up a dark mirror to real life that made my stomach curdle.