I went off to the Writing Excuses Out of Excuses Retreat this year, and I got a TON of reading done as we traveled. However, it was on the huge backlog that I’ve been accumulating for a couple years (Killing Moon, Steampunk World, and Ghost Summer). So not much to report here.
“Squalor and Sympathy” by Matt Dovey
a novelette published in Writers of the Future vol 32
I really wanted to love this story. Not only did it win the Golden Pen award for Writers of the Future, but it is set in the town of Burnley, where my mother and her ancestors were born and raised. It also has cotton mills and magic, a combination I have been wanting to do since high school. Unfortunately, this story used the trope where the protagonist suddenly masters a previously unknown magic, and I’m not a fan. I like it when the protagonist has to work for it. Good story otherwise.
(5 stars) “Gorse Daughter, Sparrow Son” by Alena Indigo Anne Sullivan
a short story published by Strange Horizons
I adore fairy tale retellings (partly why Shannon Hale is one of my favorite authors) and this story was an excellent reimagining of Sleeping Beauty. No curses, just a mistake borne out of grief. Gorgeous prose.
“An Ocean the Color of Bruises” by Isabel Yap
a short story published by Uncanny
This story had a really unique voice to it. However, I had a hard time getting into it, because the speculative element didn’t come up until the end.
“A City Born Great” by N. K. Jemisin
a short story published by Tor.com
This story also had a really great voice. It just didn’t grab me. The speculative element was a bit ethereal, and I like it more tangible.