Wednesday, March 15, 2017

In the Shade of the Pixie Tree, by Rodello Santos

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(High Fantasy) Bekka is apprentice to the local witch, and she's off to collect pixies. Joakem wants to walk with her, and she can't tell him no. (3,608 words; Time: 12m)

Rating: ★★★★★ Exciting and Heart-Warming

"," by (edited by Scott H. Andrews), appeared in issue 221, published on .

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

Pro: Bekka collects the pixies and finds out she really does care for Joakem, albeit at the cost of a few years of her life--not the she exactly remembers what took place.

The sequence of the scenes in the story alternates between those in the present, which move forward, and those in the future, which move backwards. When they meet in the middle, the scene "A sunshower" overturns the events in "The Skies darken," and the catastrophe is averted.

On rereading the second scene, "The storm's darkest moment," we get a cold chill realizing just what spell she's trying to cast. The effect on the first read is a real shock, since Joakem was so happy and vigorous just one page before, and here he's lying dead. In a single scene, the author has made us care about her characters. The fact that we do care about them make the tension very powerful.

The two characters are wonderful. We love the way they tease each other. When things turn bad, they try to protect each other. And the catastrophe is the fault of both of them. Joakem causes it by going where he isn't supposed to, but Bekka deliberately doesn't tell him the risks because she likes her secrets.

The foreshadowing in this story is excellent. As mentioned above, we know that Bekka's going to try some kind of spell, but we don't know what kind. We see the effects of the pixies and learn things about them in just the right order, so we never feel we're getting an infodump.

And the tension builds all the way to the last scene.

Con: Its hard to see why the witch would teach her teenage apprentice such a spell.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 221)
Rodello Santos Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Oh, this was lovely and so well done!

    1. Wasn't it, though! I keep hoping to see more from this author.