Review of Zannier Alejandra, “The Loch” in Rhonda Parrish, ed., Grimm, Grit, and Gasoline: Dieselpunk and Decopunk Fairy Tales, (World Weaver Press, 2019): 20-41 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)
Content note: mention of concentration camps
Parts of this retelling of the story of “Swan Lake” I really loved — the secondary characters were strongly developed and interesting, especially Miss Haddock (who entirely won me over) and Reggie. Unfortunately, it felt they were allowed to develop as fully fledged characters because they were not a part of the original fairy tale, while those characters that followed the original story more closely were flatter and more fairy-tale-archetypical — so, a story in which the fairy tale foundation unfortunately detracted overall than supported.
There were also a few places where the story raised questions that were never answered (why was Odette, a picture of Aryan perfection, in Auschwitz in the first place? Why was Auschwitz chosen as the locus of her transformation, rather than another camp? Why does the spell run from midnight to dawn instead of dusk to dawn or midnight to noon?) as well as questions that were not asked that perhaps could have been — the “white = pure = good” and “dark = defiled = evil” trope was adopted without any skepticism, and that rather bothered me. I came away from this story feeling like it could’ve been so much more (what if Odette was not a perfect flawless Aryan beauty, but, say, a Jew?).