Tor.com, March 2023
“The River and the World Remade” by E. Lily Yu
“The Dark House” by A. C. Wise
Reviewed by Mina
We are greeted with two very different, original stories in this month’s issue.
“The River and the World Remade” by E. Lily Yu may be post-apocalyptic but it is refreshing because it is not violent or bleak. It is about survivors getting on with surviving, but it remains very human. The style reminds me of a Stephen King short story, with people really talking like people, relationships feeling ordinary yet solid, and all the little details mattering. Being a short story, it can’t tell you everything about this world after the deluge, where the River and Land people lead separate lives, and recycling has taken on a whole new meaning. The first line tells you what event this story is about (and I won’t ruin it by telling you more), but the story is more about the age-old tale of a hatchling being fascinated by shiny, new things and flying its nest, and the parent’s phlegmatic acceptance of it, once they have made sure the hatchling can fly. I separate stories out into those I will read only once and those I will reread. This one bears rereading. And Changyu Zou’s illustration bears special mention.
“The Dark House” by A.C. Wise feels like good, old-fashioned horror. It does a skillful job of beginning in an ordinary way and then building up the tension. I particularly liked how it played with time: there are places where time is circular, without a beginning or end, like a wheel turning and getting too close to the edge of the wheel will have bad consequences for the unsuspecting. It asks the question of what a haunting is and it’s up to the reader to parse the answer. The narrator is a powerless witness as the wheel turns, of events both past and present. The enthusiastic comment from a reader at the end supports my feeling that the tone of this story is just right for its subject matter. I’m not a fan of horror, which is the only reason I won’t be rereading this story.
Mina wrote this, her first review, whilst watching the Rhine flowing past her window.