Saturday, February 15, 2020

Company, by Shannon Sanders

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[Strange Horizons]
★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Horror) Fay lives in her family’s old house with no company but their ghosts until her estranged sister’s daughter comes for a visit. (8,308 words; Time: 27m)

"," by (edited by Vanessa Rose Phin), appeared in issue 02/10/20, published on .

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

Review: 2020.093 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: There’s a lot to like about this story of an aging black maternal aunt in Atlantic City, NJ whose comfortable life is interrupted by a visit from her dead sister’s daughter. I liked the way the four sisters gradually became distinct individuals. I liked the way we gradually learned what their childhood really had been like. What the big family tragedy had been, and why Fay still blames Suzette (and, by extension, Suzette’s children) for their father’s death.

For the record, then, Cassandra was the smart one (married a smart man, they got rich, but their children were all failures), Fay was the dutiful one (unmarried and still standing vigil in the empty house), Lela was the sexy one (with a husband she ran off for sleeping around), and Suzette was the perfect one (who died). It’s not clear whether the (unnamed) niece was born male and then transitioned, although that’s the impression I get.

It occurs to me that, in a sense, everyone in the house is a ghost—even Fay. She just doesn’t realize it yet because she’s still alive, but until her nameless niece turns up, she’s a ghost for all intents and purposes.

Con: At the end, nothing has happened. The niece didn’t learn much, and Fay’s life didn’t change either.

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