Monday, February 8, 2016

The Opening of the Bayou Saint John, by Shawn Scarber

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(Urban Fantasy) In New Orleans, women with stillborn children can deliver them to the Bayou Lady, who gives them to the luminous ones. But sometimes a grieving mother wants to accompany her. (3,886 words; Time: 12m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

"," by (edited by Niall Harrison), appeared in issue 02/08/16, published on .

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

Pro: Suitably creepy. Complete in that we do learn what happens to the stillborn children and we learn what choices the sharecropper makes. The four stops roughly correspond to earth (riches and success), air (giving love to lost spirits), fire (being consumed with righteousness), and water (giving the gift of a child to the water people). The scene where she gives the child away is deeply moving, both for her sorrow and for their joy. She's been practical and sensible most of the way, so we're not surprised that she takes the path back home.

Con: The lady in the boat tells us at one point that she's a creation from the swamp--not a human at all. But then at the end we're told she too was once a mother who lost a child. That grates a little bit.

A larger problem is that for all the fine setup, nothing is done with it. The mother comes, leaves her child, and goes away with no price paid nor any gain received. No lesson learned. Nothing.

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. Very evocative, but somehow the pieces don't quite come together. Especially the fact that the bayou woman seems to be a golem until the end.