Story Six: “The Memory Book” by Maureen McHugh
This short story was wonderful. The main character, Laura Anne, and her unique talent really drew me in. McHugh does a wonderful job describing Laura Anne’s Memory Book and how she uses the book to move up through Victorian society. The story is quite disturbing and leaves you wondering what else Laura Anne has done with her talent.
Story Seven: “La Reine D’Enfer” by Kathe Koja
I really can’t decide if I liked this story or not. I’m also not 100% certain I completely understand Pealie’s situation and how he got away from Davey. It’s one of those things where you brain starts to accept it and then you are like no that can’t be it. I was reminded of Oliver Twist, but the resolution perhaps doesn’t work out as favorably for the characters.
Story Eight: “For the Briar Rose” by Elizabeth Wein
I was really looking forward to this story. I am a huge fan of Sleeping Beauty and a huge fan of re-tellings/re-imaginings of fairy tales. If this would have been a full length novel, I would have put it down.
The plot seemed disconnected and characters drifted in and out of the story without a lot of introduction of who they were and what their purpose was. And suddenly, Wein introduces these stanzas of poetry about 10 pages in and I don’t get why.
Then the story seemed to end abruptly. I was completely lost when I read the last line. It took me several days to read this and when I got to the author’s note at the end, I couldn’t help, but wonder if I needed to know more about the real people she was writing about to truly get it. It may serve future readers best to skip to the author’s note, do some research and then read the story.
Story Nine: “The Governess” by Elizabeth Bear
After two stories I really had trouble connecting with, I was starting to think I should abandon this whole endeavor. But “The Governess” renewed my faith that there were more good stories hiding between the pages.
“The Governess” is a mystery. The lady of the house, Mrs. B__ suffers from some medical malady and her husband and doctor have quite a power over her. Living in a house near the sea, Mrs. B__ often wanders near the strand where the seals gather. Most of the time she is distracted in her search for something and doesn’t spend much time with her three children. I thought, at one point, that Mrs. B__ was suffering from postpartum depression.
What I loved best about this story is there were just enough hints about Mrs. B__’s condition that I discovered her secret just as The Governess, Annabelle, does. I love it when an author can craft a plot that deftly doles out the breadcrumbs so I figure out what’s going on just as the main character does.
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