[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, October 11, 2021
Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf
The title of “Surat Dari Hantu” by Lisabelle Tay can be translated from Malay as “Letter from a Ghost.” The narrator was once a human woman, many centuries ago, but is now an undead being. She seeks revenge on her husband, who killed their child. He is now reincarnated in another body, denying any knowledge of his previous existence as a murderer.
This story was the winner of the 2020 Dream Foundry short story contest, being published here for the first time. It is written in a poetic style, full of metaphors that are not always entirely clear. The author creates an effectively eerie mood, combining beautiful descriptions with themes from horror fiction.
The fact that the narrator uses every method she can in her attempts to destroy her reincarnated husband, who now denies that he could ever commit an act of violence, raises disturbing questions of guilt and innocence. The narrator can be seen as victim, monster, or both. This moral ambiguity gives the reader much to think about, but it may reduce one’s ability to empathize with a mother’s mourning for the death of her child.
Victoria Silverwolf plans to get a COVID-19 booster vaccine and an influenza vaccine soon.