Sunday, September 3, 2017

Gallows Girl, by Mel Kassel

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(High Fantasy) A gallows girl uses her power to let hanged men take a little innocence to the next world. Kal’s sister was a great one, but Kal worries that her first assignment won’t go right. (6,976 words; Time: 23m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

"," by (edited by Scott H. Andrews), appeared in issue 233, published on .

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

Pro: Kal learns that the light inside her is too precious to give away to murderers. At first, this seems very selfish of her, but when we learn what has become of her sister, we realize she was right after all.

Her fixation on bones makes perfect sense once we learn that she can use her power to manipulate her own bones.

There seems to be a stronger symbolic meaning behind this. We have young girls being drained of their innocence to serve evil men. Even the fact that Red Leg made their gallows the tallest structure in town—the fact they were so proud of it—is an early clue that something is seriously wrong with this place.

Con: We’re left with the feeling that she’s done the right thing for the wrong reasons. Her motivations really were selfish—it just happens that her situation really was an injustice.

There are some loose ends. For example, the Terror Bird is described in detail, but then it never does anything but give Kal a ride.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Symbolically I'd say it's about women helping other women rather than being complicit in their oppression.

    The world building here definitely felt too big for this one story.

    1. That happens so often it would probably be worth coming up with a way to track it. Maybe once a year look back and see if any of those authors who wrote stories that were too small for their worlds ended up writing novels in the same worlds.

      A couple of times now I've given a story 3 stars yet was motivated to buy a larger work in the same universe. Maybe those should be "4 stars--for world-building alone" or something.