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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Nightmare #54, March 2017

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Nightmare #54, March 2017

"Things Crumble, Things Break” by Nate Southard

You Will Always Have Family: A Triptych” by Kathleen Kayembe

Reviewed by Valerie A. Lindsey

In "Things Crumble, Things Break,” Nate Southard presents a bleak and heart-breaking story of a town that is a victim of a government project that went horribly wrong. The government quarantines the town as residents find their bones become more and more brittle, and fragile. It is only a matter of time until they break beyond repair. The protagonist, Michael, and his girlfriend find their spirits to live are not yet quenched. I found “Things Crumble, Things Break” a memorable story that echoes the horror faced today by victims struggling with diseases created by man’s callous carelessness.

Kathleen Kayembe’s “You Will Always Have Family: A Triptych” is a unique horror story that shifts perspective between Isobelle, her missing cousin, Mbuji, and his lost twin, Kanku. The shift in perspective may have been necessary, but I think it weakened what I initially found to be one of the best horror stories I’ve read in a long time. Despite the three perspectives, this is still a strong story that begins with a mystery lurking in Isobelle’s uncle’s house. Strange sounds emit from Mbuji’s bedroom, and her uncle warns Isobelle to stay in his protected office at night. One dark night, she sees her cousin…or what is left of him. The tale then shifts to the viewpoint of Mbuji’s lost twin, Kanku. Kanku, abandoned as a witch by his father when he was only seven, and left to fend for himself on Congo streets while his father and twin leave for new lives in America. The story shifts again to Mbuji’s perspective and a bittersweet ending.