Wednesday, May 25, 2016

You'll Surely Drown Here If You Stay, by Alyssa Wong

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(Historical Fantasy) In a magical Old West, young Ellis has a love for the desert and an affinity for dead things. Both of these attract unwelcome attention from strangers visiting from back East. (9,938 words; Time: 33m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Recommended
Recommended By: JStrahan Nebula Readers

"," by (edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas), appeared in issue 10, published on .

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

Pro: From the first paragraphs, we know the Ellis doesn't belong in our world--not in human form, anyway. The biggest thing keeping him here is his love for Marisol. That and his concern about the fate of his father. By the end of the story, he's provided for Marisol to escape the whorehouse, he's laid his father to rest, and he's embraced his new identity. He tells her, "I belong to the desert now," but, of course, he always did.

Con: Somehow we never engage emotionally with Ellis, and that deprives the ending of a lot of energy.

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Alyssa Wong Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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5 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. This is a very strong piece from this author. I was completely engaged when I read it. I'd call this dark fantasy.

    I think I engage with Ellis and Marisol, and the difficult circumstances they both found themselves in, so for me the ending was very strong.

    I'd give this 4.5 stars.

  2. Drat! I deleted June's comment where she said
    "Forgot to mention this was voted by Uncanny Readers as their second favourite story of the year for 2016. It really is a very good story about love and sacrifice."

  3. I agree with RSR's ★★★★ rating. It's a beautifully written dark fantasy Western story with a dramatic climax and bittersweet ending.

  4. I think I may have heard too much hype about this one before reading it myself. Although I do like Alyssa Wong's writing, I personally find her stories almost too dark. Weird West is also not a setting that does much for me. I never really connected to Ellis either -- maybe the second person narration from his POV bugged me a bit? I don't really know.

  5. I didn't feel any attachment to Ellis, and I was confused on a lot of the story's details, so that the ending had no emotional impact for me. But the masterful use of poetic language elevates this otherwise average story to the recommended pile.