Strange Horizons, July 20, 2020
Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf
Set on the frozen surface of the Saint Lawrence River during the dead of winter in 1932, “The Stitch Beneath the Ice” by Ranylt Richildis deals with a man dragging a coffin full of whiskey from Canada to the United States. Besides the possibility of falling into the hands of the law for violating Prohibition, and the danger of the journey itself, he faces an inexplicable barrier blocking his way.
Written in a vivid, compelling, and realistic style, the protagonist’s struggle against the elements and the supernatural holds one’s attention from beginning to end. The use of flashbacks to portray peaceful times in the man’s life is not merely filler, but vital to the impact of the story’s conclusion. Readers may expect a ghost story or a tale of a Lovecraftian menace, but the nature of the mysterious barrier proves to be more original, and more subtly chilling in its vast implications.
Victoria Silverwolf cooked some vegan Italian sausage with onions and bell peppers tonight.