Editor’s Choice Review July 2021, Horror

The Editors’ Choices are chosen from the submissions from the previous month that show the most potential or otherwise earn the admiration of our Resident Editors. Submissions in four categories — science fiction chapters, fantasy chapters, horror, and short stories — receive a detailed review, meant to be educational for others as well as the author.This month’s reviews are written by Resident Editors Leah Bobet, Jeanne Cavelos, and Judith Tarr. The last four months of Editors’ Choices and their editorial reviews are archived on the workshop.

A Cure For Witching, Part One, by Lyndsey E. Gilbert

There’s a lot of good things going on in this chapter. The worldbuilding looks and feels solid. The root of the novel’s conflict seems clear. And the opening line is great.

I might suggest toning down the emotion just a hair, and keep a careful eye on the figurative language. I’m seeing a lot of hearts stuttering in chests in client mss. and published works alike. A lot of chests in general, and hearts doing things in them, with occasional excursions to throats or droppage to other parts of the body. It’s in the Zeitgeist, I think. Favorite words and concepts have a way of spreading across the writersphere.

For the most part the characters are vivid and well drawn. I did wonder if Cloda’s anger might be grounded just a little more strongly in the story. A line or two more. A layer of additional motivation. Just a bit more clarification as to why her reaction is so extreme.

I’d have liked to see more of the bridegroom as well, not physically but as Etain perceives him. She must know what he looks like, and what kind of person he is. Even if she’s in denial, might she feel an undertone of unease, especially when it’s clear something witchy has happened to her? Again, just a bit, a sketch, additional layer of feeling. Then when we meet him at the altar, we’re primed for even more tension than we get in this draft.

One thing that struck me about his living arrangements is that in spite of his rigid asceticism, he has legions of servants. Is this something Etain would pick up on, or does she note the disparity later? It’s almost hypocrisy, but it could have other reasons and ramifications as well. It’s interesting in any case, and striking in context.

All in all I’m intrigued. I would definitely read on. It’s a strong start.

–Judith Tarr

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