Friday, October 18, 2019

Across the River, by Leah Cypess

★★★★☆ Clever and Satisfying

(Jewish Historical Fantasy) A young man seeks help from ancient forces to fight a sorcerer who has come to his town to kill Jews. (4,705 words; Time: 15m)

"Across the River," by (edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe), appeared in (RSR review), published on by .

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

Review: 2019.553 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The nameless narrator has the challenge of saving his community from the evil sorcerer without violating the rules of his community.

I particularly liked the fact that he struggled to speak Biblical Hebrew despite being a scholar; ability to read a language well doesn’t directly grant the ability to speak it well, and it was nice to see that the author knows this.

I also liked the conundrum that the river was too violent to cross except on the Sabbath, and since it was only visible to a very pious young man, he’d never make the crossing on the Sabbath. But the exception that you can break the Sabbath to save a life makes the difference.

I further liked the fact that the lost tribes on the far side didn’t simply cross over and save the day for him. He cleverly brought back rocks from the far side, hoping that the same force that animated them in the water would still animate them on land. That was a very satisfying scene.

Con: Although it’s a satisfying story, it’s a simple one. The nameless narrator is the only developed character in the story, and he doesn’t really change as a result of what happens.

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Leah Cypess Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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