Strange Horizons, May 1st, 8th, & 15th, 2023

[On May 10, 2021 Strange Horizons officially expressed its political support for Palestinian solidarity. The views of Tangent Online reviewers are not necessarily those of Strange Horizons. Fiction critiqued at Tangent Online is, as much as is humanly possible, without prejudice and based solely on artistic merit.]

Strange Horizons, May 1st, 8th, & 15th, 2023

Death Comes for the Sworn Virgins” by Avra Margariti (5/1)

Spring Woods Spring” by B. Pladek (5/8)

Undog” by Eugenia Triantafyllou (5/15)

Reviewed by Mina

Death Comes for the Sworn Virgins” by Avra Margariti builds slowly and gently. We follow three lovers who have fled persecution to the mountains full of dark spirits. They are mourning a fourth lover and in search of a safe place to settle. They find a clearing that is protected from the spirits and they welcome Death among them in the form of a badger/skeletal human. Death needs their help to appease the “unrested” spirits he angered when he was young and arrogant, before he learned kindness. It is a deceptively simple and truly beautiful tale. Hare, Starling, Lynx, Fox and curiously gentle Death will haunt the reader when their dance is done.

In “Spring Woods Spring” by B. Pladek, Harry, who lives and works on a field station in a forest reserve, watches as the trees begin to glow. In fact, trees begin to glow all over the world and their initially muted light becomes a blazing, blinding one. The world, including his granddaughter, begins to panic but Harry, who watches over his dead, understands grief and feels a sense of fellowship with the mourning trees. A look at what happens when forests mount a silent protest against their destroyers.

In “Undog” by Eugenia Triantafyllou, Anna tells us about the “not-quite-a-dog” haunting her house. It could be a horror story except that Anna befriends the monster. The parallels between the lives of the unwanted dog and the unwanted daughter make this a heart-rending tale, as two unloved creatures create a home together.