Diabolical Plots #51, May 2019
“What the Sea Reaps, We Must Provide” by Eleanor R. Wood
Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf
Two stories in which innocent beings confront danger appear in the latest issue of David Steffen’s on-line magazine of science fiction and fantasy.
“What the Sea Reaps, We Must Provide” by Eleanor R. Wood takes place in a seaside resort town. A popular tourist attraction during warm weather, it is a lonely, desolate place during the winter. The narrator walks two dogs along the seawall. An unnaturally high tide threatens them. The narrator knows that the sea demands victims from time to time. The way in which its hunger is sated comes as a surprise.
This is a gentle, moody tale of loyalty and sacrifice. The author does not waste a single word in this brief, evocative story. The outcome of the plot is unexpected but entirely logical. There is strong emotional appeal, particularly for readers who are fond of dogs.
The setting for “Dogwood Stories” by Nicole Givens Kurtz is Knoxville, Tennessee. A young girl prepares for a downtown arts festival as her mother braids her hair and tells her legends about dogwood trees. A sudden act of violence
threatens her life. During the ordeal, she hears dogwoods speak.
The first part of this dark fantasy is very leisurely, requiring great patience on the part of the reader. The reward is the fast-moving, mysterious second part. The author obviously knows Knoxville well, and creates a highly detailed portrait of the city; perhaps too detailed for those waiting for the plot to begin. The story creates a great deal of suspense about the girl’s fate. Her conversation with the dogwoods is intriguing, but not entirely clear. Some may interpret it as nothing more than a hallucination.
Victoria Silverwolf is not a dog lover, but has been to Knoxville many times.