Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores, March 2018

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Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, March 2018

“Liqeni i Zi” by Corey Mallonee

Reviewed by Jason McGregor

Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores brings us a single short fantasy in March.

Corey Mallonee introduces us to Ela and Ismail, who are siblings living in “Liqeni i Zi.” After their mother died (having become pregnant as the result of a raid and perhaps having killed herself) they were adopted by Iliriana, who is reputed to be a witch. When fanatics come a-raiding once more, the townsfolk wring their hands but Ela resolves to resist. The forces unleashed take a heavy toll.

This has an odd feel, with radio and trucks and invading hordes and witchcraft. It also conveys a powerful mood, perhaps aided by the almost metronomic prose, though that style also distances the reader from the story. A significant problem is that the enemy is simply drawn and is basically plain evil, with little motivation or complexity. Another is that the action and cost are both familiar and, aside from the cost, the action is too easy, resulting in little actual drama despite overt attempts to remedy this, such as having bullets suspended in mid-air and so on. It’s readable but not fully satisfying.

More of Jason McGregor’s reviews can be found at Featured Futures.