Chizine, #23, January-March 2005

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"Under the Bridge" by Hannah Wolf Bowen
"When Shiva Burns" by Linda DeMeulemeester
"The Instrument" by Sandra McDonald
"Five Rivers of Mourning" by K. Z. Perry

Chizine is a quarterly e-zine with the theme "Treatments of Light and Shade inWords." The current issue has four stories for us.

"Under the Bridge" by Hannah Wolf Bowen features a reflexive troll struggling with his view of the world and the urges he must fight. It borders on character study but the lyrical, almost-prose poem language of the story carries it through and lifts it beyond the simplicity of the underlying plot. "Under the Bridge" is the best story of the issue.

Linda DeMeulemeester gives us a story of vengence and warning wrapped in a cloak of Hindu mythology. "When Shive Burns" shows us an abused woman who uses a gift of magic to warn her abusive son and punish her abusive husband. I can’t speak to the authenticity of the Hindu references, but the magic works within the motif DeMeulemeester lays out.

"The Instrument" will resonate, in one way or another, with anyone who has strong opinions on the current US conflict in Iraq. Sandra McDonald writes about a dead man in a distant conflict who becomes the mouthpiece of God, haunting some, inspiring others. Still, others remain completely oblivious to the situation. The end of the story is unsatisfying, however. And the story occasionally gets carried away with overt political jabs.

The final story is "Five Rivers of Mourning" by K. Z. Perry. It is the story of a woman left with five merfolk children, following them until the children come into their heritage. While we get an adequate sense of the overwhelming nature of dealing with quintuplets, the story is a mishmash of scenes and ideas. "Five Rivers" doesn’t have a solid spine and there are many things that really don’t make sense or are too poorly grounded within the story to work for me.