Saturday, March 31, 2018

She Who Hungers, She Who Waits, by Cassandra Khaw

★★★☆☆ Average

(Fantasy Horror) Mei Huang’s magic can extend a person’s life or at least give them a choice of deaths, but sometimes she screws it up. (3,705 words; Time: 12m)

"," by (edited by Scott H. Andrews), appeared in issue 248, published on .

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

Pro: It’s breathtaking when Mei Huang slits the young man’s belly from sternum to groin. It’s a huge relief when we learn she’s trying to help him, not hurt him, and then it’s shocking all over again when he wakes up while his body is still open. Very effective horror there.

It’s admirable that Mei Huang wants to do right by the youth, sacrificing herself to the goddess “She Who Waits.” Even there, she has the goal of freeing her sister from a tedious immortality, at the expense of taking that role for herself. A very good person in a very bad spot.

Con: Some of the story is rather confusing. I read the first few paragraphs without understanding them until I got much further into the story and went back. I eventually figured out that she was at a table with her young male client when local women yelled “whore” in the local language, which he didn’t speak. When he asked what they said, she lied and told him they’d yelled “foreigner.”

Likewise, I’m not entirely sure I properly understood what happened at the end or what Mei Huang’s actual motivations were, much less what benefit the young man actually got from his treatment.

And who was "She Who Hungers" and what was her role in this story?

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 248)
Cassandra Khaw Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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