Thursday, January 31, 2019

Circus Girl, The Hunter, and Mirror Boy, by JY Yang

★★★☆☆ Average

(Clockwork Fantasy) Lynette hasn’t seen Mirror Boy for years. Not since she was young and desperate and he replaced her reflection and comforted her. Now he’s back and telling her she needs to run for her life. (9,157 words; Time: 30m)

"," by (edited by Ann VanderMeer), published on by .

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

Review: 2019.082 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: This is a rare secondary-world fantasy with something approaching modern technology. (E.g. a building has an elevator, the gondola has to wait for a light to change, they have printouts and photographs, etc.) I called it a clockwork fantasy because of the clockwork heart Crissa made, and because it's just conceivable that the other high technology is clockwork based.

Here we have a story of possession in which both the victim and her friend the witch find the wraith possessing her to be adorable. This creates a good bit of tension because, in general, you don't want to be enchanted by an evil spirit.

I absolutely loved the professional consultation with the witch.
“Okay. It looks like you’ve got a wraith. That’s . . . not great. When did you pick it up?”
If you accept the idea that Mirror Boy is really just very misunderstood, then the ending is perfect; they dispose of the Hunter and find Mirror Boy a permanent home. Happy ending.

Con: I felt it was all too good to be true. Even at the end I was wondering what would happen next. We had all sort of hints that wraiths spread like zombies. I ended the story feeling that Lynette and Crissa had made a terrible mistake.

The big fight with Hunter didn't come off well for me either. The POV change seemed forced, and, given that Lynette knew he was out there, her behavior seemed remarkably clumsy. It felt like she beat him by sheer luck (other than her skill at throwing knives, but she didn't know in advance she'd get hold of his knife).

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Hm, I may have misread the milieu but I didn't take this as secondary world, but a sort of variant of, perhaps most recently, Hughes' Archonate universe where, in this case, after a climatic apocalypse, magic was loosed upon the scientific world. I took it as a New York or other city becoming a sort of Venice (I should have included in my review how much I liked the gondolier stuff). A clockwork laptop and internet would be quite a feat. :) I don't think this would effect the reading of the entire story too much, either way, though.

    And I didn't see any prep for the the idea that the Hunter could be killed and then being inhabited by Mirror Boy would just bring the body back to life. Maybe I read that wrong, but I had a hard time seeing how that was supposed to work.

    Also I completely agree about final fight and, especially, the POV changes.

    1. Yeah, the mechanics of that left quite a bit to be desired. That final scene probably would have benefited from a bit more attention from the author.