Cabinet of Wonders: Toxic Hate, Invisible Sadness & Love

Reviews of weird fiction on the web, by Lauren Colie

“Ethical Conduct,” by Ralle. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Examine your feelings this week. Reflect on the wholesome (if obsessive) glow of a mother’s love, the writhing hate of love gone sour and the echoing loneliness of love that is pale and shallow. We’re traveling the whole spectrum – grab some tissues and a comfort object, you’ll need it.

A Review of “Seven Permutations of My Daughter,” by Lina Rather at Lightspeed Magazine

I arrive home in a whirlwind, a mess of broken universal constants and transdimensional flimflam. Somehow my shirt’s torn and my hair tie is missing. It’s a small price.

I stagger out of the portal onto the concrete floor and Dahlia is waiting in the office chair I scavenged during the last departmental remodel. She is wearing my bunny slippers and her hair is as long as it should be.

She does not seem surprised to see me tumble from the six-foot arc of wires and rebar I constructed next to the water heater. Maybe this is marriage—loving someone so well that nothing they do surprises you anymore.

Sarah rips apart time and space, searching for a way to save her daughter. Doggedly, she hurls herself from universe to universe, seeking one where she and Dahlia did everything right and Elena, their daughter, never turned to drugs. She’s caught between Dahlia’s frustration with her obsession and feelings of guilt about Elena’s choices – but she knows, if she just looks hard enough, surely there’s a universe where she got it right, where Elena is happy.

Explore the what-ifs and do-overs of a bad situation with Lina Rather. What set of variables will produce a happy daughter? Will any? Should any? Enjoy a well-rendered illustration of motherly love that is warming but not saccharine and appreciate this gritty life lesson about change.

Read it HERE

 

A Review of “Figs, Detached,” by Jenn Grunigen at Nightmare Magazine

There were vials underneath a jumble of holey wool socks. He lifted a few bottles, smaller than the others. “I’m out of lust and hate,” he said, sighing. “I’ll need to find more.”

“I don’t hate you,” I said. “But I can do lust.”

“I know,” he said, kissing me, clumsy in his drunkenness, utterly besotted just for a moment. I held onto the kiss as long as I could. He pulled away, frowning, and added, “Hate will be hard, though. People don’t want to sell—they keep it close to themselves, then give it out for free.”

Lacticifer transforms feelings into fruit – delicious, exotic offerings that carry within the essence of love, hate, lust, boredom and more. She eats one of Lacticifer’s fruits, not knowing she is eating love. She falls for him. Together, they breed fruit enough to sell at market. “Is it really love?” she wonders.

Jenn Grunigen creates something darkly imaginative, indulgently rich and graphic yet decadently beautiful. Disgust, intrigue and passion await you within. Just remember, fruit – and feelings – go sour.

Read it HERE

 

A Review of “Fallow,” by Ashley Blooms at Shimmerzine

“Is there anything you want to tell me?” she asks. “Anything at all, baby. You know Mama wouldn’t think bad of you for nothing in the world.”

The phone rings. William waits as it rings again and again, seeing how long it will take before she gets up. She looks over her shoulder at him as he pushes away from the table, and says, “Remember what I said. You promise me?”

William closes the door to his room. He locks it, too, and later, he doesn’t answer when she knocks. He pretends to be asleep. He lies with his head on his pillow and stares at the ceiling as she tells him that she loves him and that she’ll never leave him and that everything, everything that she does, is for him.

William buries a bottle in a field and it sprouts. He kisses Misty and she cries. His mother brings strange men home, but it’s nice to have good food on the table. No one notices the missing odds and ends he plants in the earth. No one notices William.

Ashley Blooms goes for the gut, weaving together a young mother with a string of fellows who might be “the one,” a very lonely and confused 10-year-old boy and a hungry fallow field to raise a pained cry for help. Will William break the cycle of bad love? How far will he go to be seen?

Read it HERE

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