Friday, November 4, 2016

The Uncarved Heart, by Evan Dicken

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(High Fantasy) Despite the rebellion, the narrator makes friends with a local girl, and she wonders when their bird-like overlords will come to replace her heart. (5,403 words; Time: 18m)

Rating: ★★★★★ Award-Worthy

"," by , appeared in issue 212, published on .

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

Pro: It's hard to tell what someone is really made of until you crack them open. The narrator never does get carved heart (as the title tells us), but her experiences eventually crack her open, and at the end we see that she's someone who's ready to help lead the rebellion.

At the first stage, when she's small, she learns to pity and despise her father for his weakness. As she grows, she realizes that the Volant are at least partly responsible for making him that way. For making him love something that couldn't love him back.

Izavel not only makes her see the natives as people, she makes her see them as friends. The natives don't get sick in their own land, and they appear to have normal, healthy lives--unlike the carved people.

The narrator's mother shows the other side of the carved-heart coin. She's very strong, but has no love at all. More than that, she's aware of her loss. That she was made unable to love her own daughter. Her combat training will come in handy, though.

The big fight with Izavel marks the turning point--the point where the narrator is literally cracked open (albeit with just a small crack on the head). She could have returned to the castle and reported that Izavel knew who was committing the murders and even how to return the stolen hearts. She could have reported that the person attacked her. Her mother's forces would have stopped at nothing to get hold of Izavel. So when the narrator does nothing, it is enough to let Izavel know that she's going to be on their side.

The Volant show the narrator just how ugly and selfish their masters really are. The carved people are victims just as much as the natives are. When Izavel warns the narrator not to drink the tea, she takes a chance, but her trust is well-placed. The narrator is given a knife, and she knows what to do with it.

Every piece of this story contributes to the conclusion. The characters are sympathetic--even the unfeeling mother who welcomes death at the end. And the setting is fascinating and well-described.

Con: It would be nice if more of these characters actually had names.

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