Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Vinegar and Cinnamon, by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

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(Rural Fantasy) Sam is a good boy who works hard on the family farm, although he does tease his little sister Maura. She’s not a bad girl, but one time she got mad and turned him into a rat. (7,590 words; Time: 25m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Entertaining, Amusing, and Heartwarming
Recommended By: SFRevu:4

"Vinegar and Cinnamon," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 01-02|17, published on by .

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

Pro: The best part of this story is Sam’s colorful descriptions of how great it is to be a rat. It has a reasonable amount of tension, such as when Sam faces the cat but also when we fear he may enjoy being a rat too much to come back.

It does a great job of developing the characters of Sam and Maura. Sam really is a good boy at heart, and even though he teases his sister, he doesn't want any harm to come to her. When she's stung by the juice from the stingweed, he instantly pulls her into the water to get it off. A bad boy would have laughed while she screamed. But it's the way he makes rat life sound so much fun that tells us what a great guy he really is--no moping and complaining for him! Thanks to his rat magic, he's even able to take a good bit of control of his situation; he's far from a helpless victim. The ending implies that he liked being a rat a bit too much--he'll always be part rat from now on.

Maura is a good kid too; she's just immature and unable to cope. We see it when she apologizes to Sam and puts him in a cage to protect him while she works out the right spell. It's her immaturity that makes her hide it--not any evil intent. Once she confesses to her parents, they're collectively able to help her fix her own mess.

We don't get to know the parents very well, but their anxiety over Sam's absence makes it clear that they love their son. We really feel for them, even though we know Sam is fine. And the rational way they deal with Maura speaks well for them.

Con: The plot is simply "turn Sam human again." It's fun, but not very sophisticated.

The story is essentially over once Sam is transformed back to a person, and the last several paragraphs drag on.

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. This was so sweet! Great job with the family interaction and the description of rat life. I also liked how the cat realized who the rat was and looked out for him a bit.