Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, October 2018
Reviewed by Jeffrey Steven Abrams
“Estevan of the Children” by E.E. King
Nowhere is it written that ghost stories must be frightening, and King more than proves that point in this 1300 word, gently moving tale.
Estevan, a boy who has died recently, eagerly awaits the evening before Dia de Muertos. That’s the time when he, and every other deceased child, is allowed to spend the day at home with their family. When the day arrives, he has such a wonderful time that he oversleeps beyond November first, a transgression that is not permitted. Even though he had lived a pure life, having pulled a drowning girl from a river and saved a puppy who had fallen into a well, his punishment is severe; he is forbidden from ever returning.
Rather than becoming bitter, Estevan dedicates his time to newly deceased children, giving them the love and support they desperately need. When the puppy he saved dies, it joins him and the two help newborn ghosts forever.
While the story is simple, King’s descriptive ability lifts it beyond ordinary. You can feel Estevan’s mother’s love in the way she uses her own tears to salt his favorite bread. How her longing sweetens his agave drink.
Descriptions of the path taken by the dead as they return home bring every sense into play. Particularly vivid is the image of tiny footprints on marigold petals that lead each child to their home
No scary story here, King’s work is one that every parent should read to their children.