Flash Fiction Online #78, March 2020

Flash Fiction Online #78, March 2020

“Lipstick for Villains” by Audrey R. Hollis

“Silver and Shadow, Spruce and Pine” by Maria Haskins

“The Well Man” by T.J. Butler (reprint and non-genre, not reviewed)

“Gingerbread” by Dafydd McKimm

Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf

Three fantasies inspired by classic fairy tales appear in the latest issue of this magazine of very short stories.

“Lipstick for Villains” by Audrey R. Hollis makes use of the familiar archetype of the Wicked Queen. The narrator creates magic cosmetics that allow female monarchs to increase their power and eliminate their enemies. She escapes from this unwanted task, but an evil ruler forces her to return to her old ways. The premise is unusual and intriguing, but the ending of the story is predictable.

“Silver and Shadow, Spruce and Pine” by Maria Haskins begins with an elderly woman disappearing from a nursing home. Her granddaughter tracks her into the woods, where she discovers what the old woman sought in the forest. Although this does not sound like fantasy, it soon becomes clear that the grandmother is a version of Little Red Riding Hood, and the ending takes the reader into the realm of the supernatural. The role of the Big Bad Wolf in this tale is enigmatic.

(It is probably unfair of me to contrast this brief work with Angela Carter’s classic story “The Company of Wolves,” but the comparison seems inevitable. Suffice to say that almost any author would fail to match that remarkable tale.)

“Gingerbread” by Dafydd McKimm is a direct sequel to “Hansel and Gretel.” After destroying the witch and escaping with her jewels, the two children lose their fortune to their father’s gambling. Gretel dies, leaving Hansel alone and heavily in debt. He returns to the gingerbread house to begin a new life. This tale is an effective character study of the bereaved Hansel, but has very little plot. (Most of what I have described above takes place before the story begins.)

Victoria Silverwolf needs to move the clocks forward soon.