Sunday, 8 March 2015

Cherry Crow Children by Deborah Kalin

Cherry Crow Children by Deborah Kalin is the twelfth and concluding (sort of) volume of Twelfth Planet Press's Twelve Planets series. I have reviewed almost all of them (my review of The Female Factory will come after the Aurealis Awards are announced), and you can browse reviews of the other volumes here.
Tulliæn spans a fractured mountaintop, where the locals lie and the tourists come to die. Try the honey.

Briskwater crouches deep in the shadow of a dam wall. Ignore the weight of the water hanging overhead, and the little dead girl wandering the streets. Off with you, while you still can.

In Haverny Wood the birds drink blood, the dogs trade their coughings for corpses, the lost children carve up their bodies to run with crows, and the townsfolk stitch silence into their spleens. You mustn’t talk so wild.

The desert-locked outpost of Boundary boasts the famed manufacturers of flawless timepieces; those who would learn the trade must offer up their eyes as starting materials. Look at your pride: it will eat you alive.

Sooner or later, in every community, fate demands its dues — and the currency is blood.
This collection is very strongly linked thematically. I think the stories are all set in the same world, but they needn’t be. What links them more clearly is the recurring idea of exclusion and of differences being consumed by a place or an idea or the ideal of a place. As usual, I've put my thoughts on individual stories at the end.

The writing in all of them is beautiful without weighing the story down with dense prose. When I read my first Deborah Kalin story, I knew this was a collection to look forward to. And I was right. Whether or not you've read any Kalin stories before, if you're at all a fan of fantasy or horror (especially the kind of horror I read, see: this blog you're reading), do yourself a favour and grab a copy of this book when it comes out (in a month).

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The Wages of Honey — A man comes to a town looking for his cousin. The locals creep him out a bit and are maybe a bit too enthusiastic about their local honey. A creepy but not overly scary tale. An enjoyable read.

The Briskwater Mare — It was a very sunny day when I read this book and this is not a sunny day story. With this story I’m starting to sense a theme of places that, metaphorically or literally, consume people.

The Miseducation of Mara Lys — Probably my favourite story. A girl goes to the school where elite watchmakers (loosely speaking) sacrifice everything to learn the craft. Of course there are secrets and Mara, rejected from the profession she yearns for, wastes little time discovering them. It’s less cliched than I think I've made it sound.

The Cherry Crow Children of Haverny Wood — Another enjoyable story. I felt like part of the landscape of this one had distinct Australian inspirations (although it was definitely not actually set in Australia). The story is about a mother and daughter who are different in a village with very strong beliefs and traditions.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: April 2015, Twelfth Planet Press
Series: Twelve Planets, volume 12 (but they are all 100% standalone)
Format read: Proofs
Source: Well I have a subscription, but I actually read it while proof-reading for the publisher.
Disclaimer: See above.
Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge

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