“Monstrous Embrace” by Rachel Swirsky
The outside perspective from the narrator situates us as voyeurs to the prince’s love story. We can see objectively the deception and know the history behind their “love”. It is also an interesting approach to characterize ugliness both as a person and one who is in love. Ugliness can occupy the dark spaces of the world, but presents a way for the prince to save himself and his kingdom. The way the story twisted together was intricate and elegant. The character of ugliness is complex and beautiful and the cliff hanger ending is devastating (perhaps only because I am a cynic).
“Not by Wardrobe, Tornado, or Looking Glass” by Jeremiah Tolbert
The whole concept of Rabbit Holes is fantastic, something most reader will have already fantasized about. Even more intriguing is the concept that these holes are designed specifically for each person, an even more alluring feature. These Rabbit Holes house the ultimate escape and most everyone takes them, an escape from reality into a personalized fantasy. Yet our protagonist has no access to them, instead being a “serial escapist” and so just one Rabbit Hole would not be sufficient. Reading and literature already provide enough escape for her. The whole concept of a Rabbit Hole, the role of reading and imagination, and then the ending was really fascinating. I suspect one of reasons this story was so interesting to me, is that I think I would be much like the protagonist: unable to be happy with just one Rabbit Hole.
“Map of Seventeen” by Christopher Barzak
What I found initially intriguing is the conversation about the perspectives of subject and object in art. There is no way of knowing how “authentic” that relationship is since it is only captured in a moment and what we see is exactly what we are made to see. It is an interesting power dynamic at work when the artist becomes the subject and has power to portray the object in whichever way they choose. The revelation Meg has about her brother’s love is touching and helps put her on a path I think she is meant to be on. It becomes her call to action and helps her figure out how she can use her gift in a way that would help the world.
“Starfish” by Karin Tidbeck
I enjoyed the imagery of the star fish in the story and the way it climbs upward just to make way for its future children. It is a reminder that death can bring life and moving towards the other side does not have to be such a destructive image. It is important for the protagonist to try to find another side. Her experiences have changed her and she knows she cannot stay on the side. The starfish seems to inspire her to approach the other side with the same motivation as the starfish. We never get to know what happens, and perhaps that’s the point. We must also approach the end of the conflict or the resolution like the protagonist does the other side.
Cover image from here.
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