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

Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores, June 2019

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Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores, June 2019

Four and Twenty Blackbirds” by Alexei Collier

Reviewed by Kevin P Hallett

There is one first publication story in the June issue of Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores.

Four and Twenty Blackbirds” by Alexei Collier

After the Inquisitors burn their mother as a witch, Marta and Johan escape into the forest in this short fantasy. Despite warnings from a blackbird the two pre-teens stumble onto the home of the forest witch who quickly captures and imprisons them.

When the witch offers them stale bread, Johan falls for the trap, but Marta continues to resist. She thinks back over her mother’s teachings, seeking help from the blackbirds who visit her each day in her cell. She must discover the spells she wants to use but she is fast running out of time.

The story read easily, though it felt like a standard fairy tale.