Aurealis #141, June 2021

Aurealis #141, June 2021

“Holes, Mountains, Raven” by A Marie Carter

“The Void” by Benjamin Keyworth

“It Will Have Its Way” by Andrew Knighton

Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf

This issue offers fairy tales, science fiction, and horror.

“Holes, Mountains, Ravens” by A Marie Carter consists of three very brief stories. In the first, a woman buries three of her children who die in infancy. In the second, a woman becomes a raven who dwells on a glass mountain, and suitors attempt to reach her. In the third, a woman goes through a series of trials in order to rescue her brothers, who have been transformed into ravens.

Besides the presence of ravens, that also appear in the first story, there are many similarities among this trio of tiny tales. The main character in all three, always addressed in second person, is probably intended to be the same woman. The number three appears several times. Trying to figure out the rather obscure way the stories interact with each other is compelling but frustrating, like working on a jigsaw puzzle with pieces that don’t fit together properly.

“The Void” by Benjamin Keyworth takes place in a distant future of interstellar travel and immortality. A cleric of a religion that preaches the extension of all human life, refraining from reproduction, and constant moving forward learns the terrible secret behind his sect’s beliefs.

Despite its futuristic setting, the story’s premise depends on metaphysical speculation. The idea is an interesting one, but the reader has to accept the notion that the church managed to keep an extraordinary fact completely unknown to anyone outside its highest-ranking clergy. Because this involves events that had a profound effect on hundreds of people, it’s difficult to believe that it could have been kept secret.

“It Will Have Its Way” by Andrew Knighton is set in Berlin at the time of the Cold War. The protagonist is an American spy. Pursued by East German police while carrying a parcel from a contact, the contents of which are unknown even to herself, she escapes into a sewer, only to face even greater dangers.

This mixture of espionage fiction and supernatural horror is not entirely successful in either genre. The spy story is overly familiar, and the horror story is confusing. Exactly who the contact is, why the spy received the parcel, and how the police are involved remain unexplained.

Victoria Silverwolf has to go grocery shopping in the morning.