Thursday, November 5, 2015

Wooden Feathers, by Ursula Vernon

Uncanny Magazine, November/December 2015; 6,040 words
Rating: 4, Recommended

Moving story about a woman who carves mediocre decoy ducks and an old man who buys one every week.

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: The core story line is how Sarah helped lift the curse from old Jeb. This is more than a little complex, because in the process she's leaving the old man completely alone. Or is she? The fact that she left him some tools to work with suggests that she may want to be part of his life from here on.

There's a second story line, which is how Sarah became a master carver herself. We know from the start how desperately she wants to be good at it. Working with the old man to finish the horse, some of the magic rubs off on her somehow.

There's even a third story line, which is how the unhappy wooden boy finally got the horse he dreamed of and was able to escape back to fairyland.

It's notable that the story has no inherently evil characters. Just people in bad situations trying to do the best they can.

Con: Sarah becomes a master without earning it. She makes no real sacrifice, pays no serious price, and invests only a single night of effort.

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