Beneath Ceaseless Skies #94, May 3, 2012

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Beneath Ceaseless Skies #94, May 3, 2012

“To Go Home to Leal” by Susan Forest
“A Marble for the Drowning River” by Ann Chatham

Reviewed by Chuck Rothman

Once again, Beneath Ceaseless Skies features moody and atmospheric stories in their issue #94.

“To Go Home to Leal” is set in a port city where Kaul works at odd jobs just to stay afloat.  His father Dagh has had his hand cut off as a thief and longs to go back to his home in Leal, but thieves are not allowed in.  Kaul comes up with a plan involving a wizard and a magic spell that will allow them both to return, but things don’t go quite right, and not in the way I may have implied by those words.  Susan Forest adds some unexpected and fascinating complications and gives Kaul a heartwrenching dilemma in the end. 

Ann Chatham goes for mood in her “A Marble for the Drowning River,” where a boy goes down to the water and finds a drowned girl being brought there by Jolee.  The drowned girl is still able to talk and perform magic, and is looking for a witch named Jeannielee, who is also dead but still present.  The story is primarily revealing the situation and the moodiness of the setting, but I never really became engaged in it, and at heart it is just another revenge tale.  I think it would be better served if the main character were more than just an observer of the action; he doesn’t really have any stake in what’s going on.