Thursday, March 10, 2016

Montague's Last, by Ekari Mbvundula

(Historical Fantasy) In a prison in 18th-century France, Montague struggles to redeem himself by completing one last magical device before he dies. (3,017 words)

Rating: 4, Recommended

"," by appeared in the 29 February 2016 issue of Strange Horizons.

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

Pro: Redeem himself, he does, and it's a big thrill at the end to realize what a huge difference his device is going to make. The proximity of the guards adds a good bit of tension as well.

The descriptions of Montague at work do a great job of showing us how difficult it is and how much it takes out of him. His encounter with the guards comes across as plausible, especially given the severity of his crime. He pushes himself so hard that we're convinced of his desire for redemption.

Con: Not so believable is that they didn't just execute him. And it's a little hard to believe that his master only got three years.

7 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Outstanding! I loved it! The tension , the redemption - brilliant work. This young author will go places!

  2. Corrected the description: story is set in France, not Haiti. (I hadn't realized they had slaves in France.) Thanks to the author for pointing it out!

    1. I didn't know either, until I was knee deep in research! The learning was one of the most enjoyable parts about writing it. Standard education is limited about these histories.

      Thanks again for promoting and reviewing, thanks to EFWong for posting my link, and thanks to Sidney for your great feedback! I certainly hope your prediction is true...

  3. Eric pointed out that this story was originally published in the June 3, 2015 issue of Omenana:

    However, since the 29 February 2016 issue of Strange Horizons was the first publication in the USA, then it should be eligible for the 2017 Hugo Awards (to be awared in Helsinki) under the extended eligibility rule in section 3.4.2 of the WSFS Constitution.

  4. Good redemption story. My only quibble was that I had trouble believing the first sewing machine would be small enough to smuggle out. They're not small now, and early versions are like furniture. But maybe the undertaker had a bag of holding. :)

    1. I forgot about that! My grandmother had an old manual sewing machine, and my brother and I used to play on the treadle when we were little, which means we played inside the thing.