Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Tomato Thief, by Ursula Vernon

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(Fantasy) Someone (or something) is taking Grandma Harken's tomatoes, but finding the thief leads to a real mystery--and danger. (14,000 words; Time: 46m)

Rating: ★★★★☆, Recommended
Recommended By: SFRevu:4

This story is related to her award-winning short story, Jackalope Wives, but there's no need to read that one first.
"," by , appeared in Apex Magazine issue 80, published on .

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

Pro: The author has crafted a beautiful, complex world, and she nicely ties up most of the loose ends. We learn why the mockingbird doesn't try to escape, for example: she won't leave the roadrunner boy. Grandma herself is a delight. "Blessed St. Anthony, give me strength to defend my tomatoes."

Con: The story has little tension in it; we're absolutely sure Grandma Harken will prevail. There's no real emotional payoff either.

Grandma Harken seems quite a fool for going into the cold-thing's lair without a plan. We also wonder that the trains didn't do something to deal with this problem sooner, given that it impacted them directly.

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6 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Loved this one! Both the world in general and Grandma in particular are wonderful. I went back and read Jackalope Wives first since I've been meaning to anyway. Loved that one too. Hope there will be more.

  2. Yes, she creates wonderful characters in all of her stories. An author worth following for sure.

  3. Yes - Loved this one. Great story.

    There was tension for me. I didn't know for sure how it'd end, and I wasn't sure if Grandma Harken will prevail OR fully prevail until the end.

    1. I guess I just had more faith in her than you did. :-)

  4. This was frustrating to read because Grandma Harken is so obviously inspired by Pratchett's Granny Weatherwax. Vernon's style in general is an excellent imitation of Pratchett's, which is both good and bad. On one hand, Vernon deserves credit for competently imitating the greatest comedy writer of the past 50 years. On the other hand, she should probably find her own style. It makes me sad to think that so many people reading this won't realize it's faux-Pratchett.

    I give this a grudging 4/5

    1. I've only read one Pratchett novel, and that was 30 years ago, so I didn't see the connection. I should probably try it again, given how influential he is.