Cabinet of Wonders: Choices

practicalmagician

vintage poster, public domain

Web fiction reviews by Lauren Colie

Choice: escape or remain. Run or rise. In this Cabinet, we take a look at options. Do we stay on the boat, or step out into the sun?

A Review of Not By Wardrobe, Tornado or Looking Glass, by Jeremiah Tolbert at Lightspeed Magazine

Of course, she didn’t say that if her rabbit hole did arrive, she wouldn’t be coming back. She still had to pay rent for the time being, after all.

One of the many great things about being a ravenous bookworm is the immense depth and variety of imagination. So many grand worlds, grand travels, all from your favorite sunny chair. You know all the potential and all the options — there’s no way to choose a favorite. They’re all a smashing good time.

Louisa knows this firsthand. She can list every type of rabbit hole and all the glorious adventures that occur within. When the Others started appearing and people started disappearing into their own fantasy lands, she knew it was only a matter of time before the perfect rabbit hole would open for her. Well, she thought. With the world growing stranger and emptier of regular folks around her, she can’t help but wonder why she was left behind. Tolbert’s tale is a light-hearted look at escape infused with a shot of comfort for the bookish bound by the real world.

Read it HERE

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A Review of Everything You Want Right Here by Delaney Nolan at Nightmare Magazine

We’d been living in the southern section, where all the roulette tables were, for about four years by then. Like a lot of people, we’d stopped in thinking it was temporary, and then stayed for a little longer, and then just stayed. I don’t even remember where we’d been headed before we stopped.

Casinos are designed to reel you in and trap you, to erase time and encourage you to part with your cash for the illusion that luck is right around the corner. Natalie and her husband live in the district with all the roulette tables, and finally win big on one of the slot machines. The swag? A tomato plant.

Trapped inside by their own complacency and the fear of swirling sands outside, people survive on candy and the type of vapid entertainment that would make Aldous Huxley cringe. A glimmer of hope appears for this duo when they get the gift of responsibility and a reminder of the life waiting outdoors. But, just how much will this remnant of a time long gone cost? Nolan challenges life inside the box, examining what it takes to break down the barriers to see the sun.

Read it HERE

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A Review of The Opening of Bayou Saint John, by Shawn Scarber at Strange Horizons Magazine

And she turns to me to give me the expression that so many other women have in the past. I admit that there have been times I’ve let a woman go without warning. It’s petty of me, but if she was especially cruel or judgmental towards me, I’d let her jump into that water and I’d watch as the lake people devoured her flesh.

Choices, choices. What path to take? The midnight ball, swarmed with beasts? The graveyard full of loveless children? The country road home? In the depths of grief, how can we think clearly?

The bayou woman ferries the sharecropper to the place where her stillborn child can live once more — but apart from her forever, never to touch or meet again. Queer magic is afoot and offers a siren song of potential. Lucky for the sharecropper, the bayou woman still remembers what life was like before she was part of the mud and muck. Scarber breathes new, dark life into the road not taken in this eerie account.

Read it HERE

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