So today I'm looking at the original short story releases from Fantastic Stories of the Imagination. Up to now they've been doing only one original story a month, but with this issue (and thanks to limiting word counts to under 3k, though there is one a little longer as the policy was just implemented) they have two. So let's dive right in.
"Heartless" by Krystal Claxton (2773 words)
A creepy little story about a place where words have power and magic and where one woman hopes to save a man that has been attacked and nearly killed by a Shebeast. The set up is interesting, the woman running from her own past and legacy, the man a wounded thing that she tries to heal, that she sort of falls for. It's a little standard in its message, the transformative power of love, but I think it was done fairly well, that it wasn't the man who made the woman strong but rather that she made herself strong and realized that she wanted something. The fight between the woman and the Shebeast was interesting, visceral. I loved the idea of the kind of fight they were having. Not so sure on the whole Shebeast thing, but it was still a nice story that I enjoyed. And ripe for further exploration of the setting, the idea of the words having power. I'd read more.
"Underworld" by Katherine Mankiller (3521 words)
There's a lot to enjoy about this story, though I feel it suffers a little for being quite short (though longer than the new length restriction at FSotI). I mean, I liked the casual way that magic just works in the story, the way that Dion just does it and it does generally what he wants it to. I like the relationship between him and his mom, where he's the more responsible one, looking out for her. Families are great things to story and this family has its issues. I felt that the main focus, that Dion is finding out about his family, was all right but very rushed. This feels more like the opening to a novel, where he would learn more about who he is and would get pulled into some weird stuff. Again, I think I'd read more of this, but I don't think this one worked as well for me as a short story. I was left a little confused and wanting, and though I like a lot of things about it I just wasn't completely convinced by it. Still, I don't regret reading it. It just makes me hungry, which is not the worst thing a story can do.