Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Quick Sips - Nightmare #31

So this issue of Nightmare Magazine is a little special to me. Why, you ask? Well, it's not because 31 is my favorite number. It might have more to do with the fact that I'm in the issue! Now, as is my regular policy, I will not be reviewing my story. Which is free to read starting today. Just saying... Anyway, I'm not reviewing my own story, but I will still be reviewing the rest of the stories in the issue. Or, in this case, the rest of the story in the issue, as my story represents half the original fiction in this issue. But also go check out the reprints and the nonfiction, which is solid. And also maybe check out that other new story, "Spring Thaw," which is the first pro-sale of a certain reviewer you may be familiar with. To the review, though!

Art by Dariusz Zawadzki


"The Island" by Desirina Boskovich (6015 words)

This story takes the older idea of a family going to live on an island and twists it, presents a darker take on the idyllic situation presented in those older texts. A family does go to live on an island, and builds a home and at first things seem perfect. They even manage to keep some electricity, and want for nothing, really, except other people. More children are born until there are six total, but the parents are slowly drifting apart and becoming more and more unbalanced, more abusive, and then there's a storm. The prose is interesting, a mix of the childlike wonder of the island, the hope and unlikely successes the family has. Somehow they get a television and phone to work, but that's not really enough. The storm is sort of the dysfunction of the parents made material. It opens up a fissure in the island, inside of which are dark shapes. This fissure only widens as the parents fight and move apart and try to pull the children into their struggle. The television and phone and radio are broken, and the children seem like they might fracture into groups, but they stay together. To kill their parents. It's a bit disturbing how easily they fall into it, but it does seem to solve many of their problems. The treasure of the island only returns once the parents are gone, a sign perhaps that the children need to escape the pull of their parents to be successful. More than that, though, the fissure starts to close. A tree-like thing grows from it, but otherwise the children all do just fine. And then visitors come. I like the feel of the story, the way that the children manage on their own, the way they create a system that works but one that is tainted by the tree, by the act of killing their parents. The ending hits hard and is nicely creepy, showing that taint of violence and how it has worked its way into the children. And it's always interesting to see how a group trying to escape the ills of civilization tends to bring the worst with them when they leave. A fine story.

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