Reviewed by Cyd Athens
“Stitched Wings” by Beth Cato
Madeline is a young girl who has a unique, and magically granted, form of synesthesia—she can taste lies. Given the false name Gertrude by her mother, “a scientist and a thief” who is obsessed with using magic to resurrect her dead husband, Madeline hides from her tutor, Shelley, rather than suffer the endless needlepoint, reading, and other lessons deemed necessary for proper young ladies to learn. During one hiding session, she encounters a fairy, Rowan, who is calmly sewing himself a new pair of wings while imprisoned in a small iron cage. After a bit of chit-chat, she frees him. This, according to the fairy, puts him in her debt. Rowan and Madeline become friends. When Madeline’s mother sets a trap for, and catches, the fairy queen, Rowan requests Madeline’s help to free his monarch. This is a story about what lies, and truths, cost.
“Whistler’s Grove” by A.E. Decker
Miro and his three companions go to Whistler’s Grove, home to the Hangman’s Tree, to ask a question about how their lord can achieve victory in battle. The price for the answer is one life. Miro, sick and already half-dead, expects the life taken to be his. When the others stand in the presence of the tree, presumably to concentrate on the single question, things start to go awry. It is not Miro who is taken, but another of his group. And it was not the intended question, but one more personal, that took her. After realizing the treachery, the group leader kills the member responsible for it, then tries the intended question again. Miro, still expecting to die, dares a silent question of his own. This is one of those medieval/paranormal stories where things do not go as planned.
Cyd Athens indulges a speculative fiction addiction from 45ø 29 30.65 N, 122ø 35 30.91 W.