Cabinet of Wonders: Bad Juju & Good Intentions

Reviews of weird fiction on the web, by Lauren Colie

Die Sunde, by Franz von Stuck, 1893

Bad Juju & Good Intentions

Be careful what you wish for…but we all know that. Yet, we continue to test the waters. Dip a toe in this week for the black magic of a woman scorned, the gleeful wrath of a dark goddess and the triumphant revolt of a girl who shakes off the shackles of normal.

 

A Review of Nine by Kima Jones at Lightspeed Magazine

Flora held the man’s head and snapping jaw in the crook of her arm as Jessie threw every salty thing she could find. The man’s arms and legs flailed about. He snapped his jaw at Jessie’s torso until he melted into the creases of Flora’s black dress, blue and red clumps of him exploding down her front, into her patent heels. The women were so busy they didn’t hear the shot. Didn’t see Glenn’s body slumped at Tanner’s feet or see the blood trickling from his nose and into the wood floor.

“Flora, how’d you know that wasn’t no real man?”

“When I went into the kitchen to get the gun, he was eating Rinny.”

“Eating him?”

“That’s what I said.”

“The dog?”

“Only one, unless you know another.”

Deadly debt collectors descend on Tanner’s motel. Her last girlfriend took her departure a little hard…and bound her to the Star Motel, along with the people she loves. Tonight’s death marks nine sons Maud has sent to collect her, and nine sons that Tanner has sent to the grave. But Maud has one more dirty trick to make for a fair trade.

Hell hath no fury, right? Jones explores gender, sexuality, haints and bad juju in this tale of otherworldly revenge. Beware to whom you bind yourself; here, the price of freedom is steep.

Read it HERE

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A Review of Blood Mangoes by Ashok Banker at Nightmare Magazine

“Blood mangoes. Don’t you see? They’re the fruit of black magic and murder. They’re stained with the blood of their owner, the old fruit seller.” Bharti glanced around as if afraid that Bhaiyya might still be around somewhere, listening.

Shanti looked at the Alphonsos again. She picked one up and held it cupped in both her palms, like prasad, sanctified food. It was heavy and warm. And almost . . . alive? No, of course not. That throbbing was only her own angry blood rushing through her veins, her too-sensitive nerves working overtime.

“Blood mangoes,” she said.

“Yes,” Bharti whispered, staring in hushed awe at the fruit.

Shanti held it for another moment. The mango seemed to grow heavier, much heavier. And within her, a tiny voice seemed to speak, cajoling seductively, Eat me, enjoy me, relish me now.

Shanti knows her prayer for mangoes will have a steep price. But, she thinks she’s paid. She’ll enjoy the fruits with her mother and closest friend. Surely, the pain is worth the joy of gorging herself on the ripe fruit. But the devi, the dark goddess who granted her wish, seems to still be hungry.

How much would you pay for what you wanted? And, how much would you pay for love? Baker reflects on love and worth – remember, watch out for those hidden fees.

Read it HERE
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A Review of Monster Girls Don’t Cry by A. Merc Rustad at Uncanny Magazine

The man spins to face you again, and now his skin is sallow, sweaty. “That’s impossible. I cut them off—I fixed you!”

“You hurt me,” Phoebe says, and she prowls towards him, lifting her arms with slow, steady grace.

In the hallway, blanketed in florescent light, Melanie’s shadows begin to unfurl from her skin. “You hurt all of us.”

You shake back your hair and think of all those years combined when you shaved down your horns and clipped your wings. All the pain. For men like him, for all the men who refused to accept you. You think of your mother, dead because someone feared her. Of your aunt, who hid behind scars. Of all the monster girls you’ve never met and who Phoebe was waiting for.

Your horns are hot as a welding torch—arching out and into massive, beautiful darkness. Your shirt rips as you stretch your wings.

Melanie and Phoebe corner the doctor.

You unfurl your great wings and step into the hall to meet the security.

Zaria just wants to be a normal girl. She files her horns and slices out her wings so she can go out and play human. Her sister, outfitted with claws and teeth, can’t pass for normal and stays home, painting. When her sister is taken, Zaria spills the beans to her girlfriend – who accepts her for who she is. Can Zaria accept herself in time to save Phoebe from the doctors who want to change her?

Rustad’s message is clear: those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. Settle in to read and know your horns – and moles, warts and tail – are fine the way they are.

Read it HERE

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