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

Beneath Ceaseless Skies #248, March 29, 2018

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Beneath Ceaseless Skies #248, March 29, 2018

She Who Hungers, She Who Waits” by Cassandra Khaw

Cry of Desire in a Shrouded Land” by Talisen Fray

Reviewed by Stephanie Wexler

In the city of Hong, She Who Hungers is busy applying different destinies for her client, a young soldier in “She Who Hungers, She Who Waits” by Cassandra Khaw. It seems She Who Hungers has a track record of screwing up, but continues her work in the hope to obtain her greatest desire. It isn’t long before She Who Waits, a goddess who calls her Littlest Sister, senses her drastic mistake and offers her a gift at a price. Khaw spends so much time on the subtle and subliminal imagery that it is hard to understand what is going on. Khaw’s multiple themes of immortality, choices and personal fulfillment, do create a rich ideological and mythical landscape, but it might leave some readers a bit mystified.

Lukas, a tea vendor, in “Cry of Desire in a Shrouded Land” by Talisen Fray makes a mysterious tea that grants your desires. He has made quite the living offering his special drink to the elite or the highest bidder. Yes, Lukas’s life has never been sweeter having drunk the tea himself, achieving love and wealth. Yet, all goes horribly wrong when Vidita—a slave—seduces him for the secret of this mysterious tea. Soon, we get to see Lukas’s weakness and no big surprise here, reveals the secret to Vidita. It isn’t long before everyone’s life begins to change. Fray’s rags to riches/riches to rags tale is a revelation that we sometimes can’t fathom what we truly yearn for inside until everything is taken away.