Monday, October 31, 2016

Dearly Departed, by Kelly Stewart

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(Horror) Perdita lives in the house on the hill and tends the graveyard. A traveler on a mission disturbs her solitude, and a thing under the graveyard needs to be killed. (5,139 words; Time: 17m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Recommended

"," by , appeared in issue 211, published on .

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

Pro: Perdita doesn't even realize that she's lonely until Sinclair points it out to her, there are plenty of indications of it. She lives mostly in the past, and the inscription on the gateway to the land under the graveyard implies that all the residents of the house have been that way. And she tells the gods she'd have nothing without her memories, it's very clear that she's in a rut.

In that same prayer, she promises to stop tending the graveyard, which makes us expect she'll end up going with Sinclair. Indeed, at every step of the adventure, they work closely together. They complement each other, without either one actually taking charge. Symbolically, he gives her a pearl--not a ring, but a gem from near his heart. His is a living death, but so is hers, tending the house and the graveyard, keeping everything exactly the same, "forever like it was when things were good."

She uses his gift to slay the graveworm, which, even as it dies, tempts her to stay and preserve the past. Symbolically, his betrothal gift lets her leave the past behind.

Even the ringing of the bell can be given symbolic significance: ringing the first time for the wedding guests (even if they are slimy monsters) and ringing at the end to announce the couple.

Con: There's no emotional charge to the story. We don't feel any sense of loss over her leaving.

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