Saturday, November 24, 2018

In the Ground, Before the Freeze, by Margaret Ronald

★★★★★ A moving story of a tragic love

(Dark Fantasy) They say the mountain women have “unnatural habits” so when Katrin falls in love with a lowland man, no good can come of it. (6,631 words; Time: 22m)

"," by (edited by Scott H. Andrews), appeared in issue 264, published on .

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

Review: 2018.603 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: Argen comes across as sweet and gentle.  It's easy to see why Katrin loves him. The tension of not knowing what happens to him (but dreading it) really spices up the early part of the story.

It’s a bit of a reveal that the “planted” men come back in the spring, but only as idiots. If anything, that makes things even more tense, because it seems a fate worse than death for bright and lively Argen. The thought that Katrin might do this to him adds an extra touch of horrific anticipation.

It helps a lot that it was his choice, knowing he wouldn’t survive his accident, but it’s still tragic, and deeply moving. In fact, anyone who ever nursed someone through an illness that turned them into a different person should be able to relate.

There's plenty of foreshadowing to suggest that even though he's greatly reduced, he's still more human than most of the other husbands, so when she uses his music to actually get him to speak, it creates a spark of hope that ends the story on just the right note.

Final note: It's perfect that the story starts with "there was a lowland man, and he loved a mountain woman" and it ends with "there was a mountain woman who loved a lowland man." This is the story of a love that was stronger than death itself, and that's always powerful.

Con: Almost everything in the story points to this being a secondary world, so the interview with a woman smoking a cigarette strikes a false note.

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