REVIEW: “Haven” by Victoria Kochan

Review of Victoria Kochan, “Haven”, in David G. Clark, Callum Colback, Joe Butler, and Alex Hareland, eds., Beneath Strange Stars, (TL;DR Press, 2020): 177-189 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

Apothecary Issabelle and her apprentice Prudence live in a post-apocalyptic world where their role as the sole purveyors of medicine and treatment place them near the top of the food chain — but not quite at the top, as that’s reserved for the Lords and Ladies who rule the rest of humanity with a rather nauseating sense of class privilege. (It is not clear how the Lords and Ladies get to be the Lords and Ladies, or whether they have any special powers or skills that make them better placed to run the world beyond just the fact that they are Lords and Ladies.) So when one of the Ladies becomes ill and Issabelle is sent for, she runs when called.

There’s a strange thread running through the story connected with death — or fear of death — or an inability to die — something I never quite got. Unfortunately, because it was never quite explicit enough, I think I missed out on the significance of the ending. All in all, not a story that worked for me.