REVIEW BY ERIN BARBEAU
|Art by B R Sanders|
Vulture Bones is a new speculative magazine focusing on trans and nonbinary writers. It is published quarterly, and I will be looking at issue #4. Content warnings are included in the table of content of the magazine, so I will forgo including them in my reviews. The six stories in this issue run through with unsettling details which make them a deliciously creepy read.
“Two Yearnings” by Raymond Miranda (2000 words)
Miranda spins a ghost story reflecting depressive spirals in “Two Yearnings”. The main character lives with a ghost who is so very hungry. I really loved the description of the ghost living next to the washing machine. It grows more and more grotesque as the story continues. Parts of “Two Yearnings” are painfully intense for me since they reflect conversations I have had and my own experiences with depression. “Two Yearnings” may be short, but it packs a punch.
“Selfies” by Gaston Jenova (4400 words)
“Selfies” is a horror story with quirky elements. The main character is a gore enthusiast who is plagued by an internet troll who may not be a troll at all. The monster in “Selfies” feels right out of a creepypasta which really enhances the story because of the amount of plot taking place over the internet. I liked that the villain comes off as cute and bubbly, she wants to be friends! The inclusion of a selfie stick as a plot point made me laugh. I highly recommend “Selfies” to anyone who likes horror.
“Debtor’s Door” by Sarah Cavar (2000 words)
“Debtor’s Door” is told through letters of a college freshman to their uncle. They are excited to be at college. Things slowly start to descend into existential horror as academia takes a toll. Things start to become sinister as the letter writer’s memory seems to worsen. I loved the body horror in this story. I highly recommend this story especially if you’re in academia.
“Feather Bonnet” by Rey Piper (1800 words)
The prose in “Feather Bonnet” is beautiful. It is a story of a woman who has become a tool for the military against enemies in a future America. It is an unsettling future where rats and squirrels can be considered enemy agents while the people the military protects don’t have basic sanitation. The design of the main character’s drone is amazing and references biblical angels. There is something eldritch about being a flying being made of wings and eyes. That element is what made “Feather Bonnet" stand out for me. “Feather Bonnet” is bittersweet but hopeful.
“The Tattoo” by James A. C. Clark (3900 words)
“The Tattoo” follows a tattoo artist as she completes several sessions with clients. It features trans characters. The descriptions of the artist’s art are absolutely lovely. I liked how the tattoos were portrayed as having life. However, the pacing didn’t work for me. It seemed to meander, which made it seem much more like a series of vignettes. I did like the sense of creeping dread throughout the story as the artist struggles to maintain concentration.
“Mockingbirds” by K. Noel Moore (3500 words)
I really enjoyed this story since it feels like a teen movie meets Annihilation. The town is small and has a peculiar issue of every thirty years a teenager disappears and is returned changed. “Mockingbirds” encapsulates the experience of being queer in the South with hope. I love the prose in this story too. It has the sense of something laying just beneath the surface waiting. The resolution of “Mockingbirds” I completely did not expect and was a good plot twist.
I really enjoyed reading Vulture Bones Issue 4 since many of the stories hit my tastes on the nail since I enjoy horror and darker stories. The stories I enjoyed the most were “Mockingbirds”, “Selfies”, and “Debtor’s Door”. Vulture Bones is free to read online, and I highly recommend checking out the issue. I look forward to the next issue.