“The Şiret” by Marie Brennan
Reviewed by Ben Wheeler
The famous master thief, Laperi, declares he will steal the titular and mysteriously desirable Şiret mask in “The Şiret” by Marie Brennan. The heist has so many twists and turns it would take away from the enjoyment to spoil it. The pacing only sticks a little in the middle, but then immediately picks up again as the situation changes. The master thief always plays the part to a clever ‘T’ and the evolving plan thrills the reader until the final, hair raising seconds, dangling at the end of a rope.
Family legends and old deeds come forward with “His Wife and Serpent Mistress” by Gillian Daniels. With a maze of lies, deceit and an Uncle who might hate him, the Marquis must navigate his life in a way that doesn’t ostracize his fiancee or half-serpent lover. A fleshed out world does wonders for this story, making characters seem alive and hitting it just right for the strange things that do need explanation. The Uncle himself is interestingly crafted, but the author seems to want to have his cake and eat it too. Daniels wanted to make him a complete jerk, but couldn’t quite hit the mark for irredeemability. Emotionally, it strikes this reader that the author wanted a certain ending for the Marquis, but didn’t quite plot it right for a full pay off, for him or us, due to the not-quite full evil of the Uncle.