Monday, October 17, 2016

The Witch's Knives, by Margaret Ronald

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(Modern Fantasy) Leah has come a long way to find a witch to lift the curse on her husband which sometimes turns him into a beast. (2,864 words; Time: 09m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆, Average

"," by , appeared in Strange Horizons issue 10/17/16, published on .

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

Pro: Amusing tale describing what happened after Beauty married the Beast. The practicality of the witch is entertaining, e.g. assuring Leah that there's a bathroom on the train back to the moral world, or having a knowledge of marriage law in Chicago.

The key point is that the physical transformation hasn't fixed the problem that the man is still a beast inside. Probably a metaphor for the fact that a bad guy can clean up his act quite a lot and yet still have lapses into bad behavior--which, in this case, he blames on his wife failing to love him enough. Trying to love him harder won't fix it because the problem is inside of him; leaving him is the only thing likely to make him look at himself and see that he has a problem.

So what does the knife do, if it doesn't cut living flesh or wood? It's just a memento of having walked away from a bad relationship. The comment that it "might start a collection" is probably a warning that some people seem to have a tendency to get into abusive relationships. Leah's smile at the end signals that she doesn't mean to let that happen.

Con: The metaphor takes over the story. Strictly as a story, Leah gives up too easily. After an eight-month quest she just accepts that there's no other way to cure her husband? She doesn't even ask?

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