Monday, September 9, 2019

The Sweetest Fruit of Summer, by R.K. Duncan

★★★★☆ Memorable and Surprising

(High Fantasy) To keep the peace, Corra’s family surrenders her to the bandit king who terrorizes all the countries around the desert. He wants more from her than sex—much more. But she has plans too. (6,542 words; Time: 21m)

"," by (edited by Scott H. Andrews), appeared in issue 285, published on .

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

Review: 2019.500 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: From the start, Corra seems like a survivor. She makes the best of a situation she had no control over. Her relatives come across very badly, and they were clearly idiots to let her know so much about their plans and then treat her so poorly.

As Corra (and we) learn more about how the system works, she’s wise enough not to express too much revulsion—just enough to earn good-natured contempt from Hadi, who tells he she and her people are better off bowing. Throughout, it’s hard to tell whether she’s accepting it or just biding her time, but it’s clear she has no intention of being a passive victim, starting with trying to take control of the visions so she’s the one telling them to him, not him extracting them from her.

When she leads him and his horde back to her own home, it’s still not clear whether she has something planned or if she’s just going along and maybe getting some pleasure out of hurting the people who used her so badly. The final outcome, then, is surprising and satisfying.

Beyond that, the names are cute, with reference to the myth of Hades and Persephone. Compare “Hades” the ruler of the dead with “Hadi” the “king of barren places.” And the seven pomegranate seeds that Persephone eats match the seven seeds that Corra eats for her first prophecy.

Con: It’s pretty bloodthirsty. Corra’s victory over the raiders is accomplished by first getting the raiders to kill the whole aristocracy and then her and her friends killing all the raiders. She gets a crown, but it’s drenched in blood.

The plot and setting are strong, but there’s not a lot of character development.

There are an unusual number of editing errors. Not simple typos, but errors that result in valid words but invalid sentences.

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