365 Days of Women Writers

Women writers only – no boys allowed

Day 38: Bitterdark by Eljay Daly

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I’m always a bit fascinated by what editors choose as the pull quote for stories. The pull quote for Bitterdark is:

Mizein had become a summer queen, clad in brilliant color: a gown of iris petals, deep blue veined in purple; ropes of lapis, amethysts, amber; hair as brown as wild earth.

Which for me on the do-I-want-to-read-it scale is a pretty decided “meh.”

I’d be more compelled by the story open:

The faerie sleep only a little, a few sluggish heartbeats in bowers of pine and slate—but once-kings not at all.

Aelyn lay awake in his mortal wife’s bed while she snored. He counted the tiny countries bordered by eggshell cracks in the ceiling—six hundred and three, never more, never less.

But if I were picking I think I’d go for:

These mortals had their own magic: loud voices and fists and bluster. Mizein didn’t like them at all. They were worse than the Bitterdark, these brutish old women.

In the actual pull quote we mostly learn that this is going to be a story about fairies. There are a lot of stories about fairies, and lots of stories about summer queens. The descriptions aren’t particularly memorable and there isn’t really a reason for me to click on the story.

In the story open, I think there’s more to draw you in. That fairies don’t sleep is new to me, and I like the juxtaposition with the mundane activities Aelyn occupies himself with during the night.

Why do I like my chosen pull-quote? I like the sense of a human magic made up of utterly mundane things I like the idea of a not-mortal creature being a bit cowed by them. It nicely turns on its head the usual relationship of fairies and mortals, and I like the slightly petulant tone of it. (ok, if it were really a pull quote I wouldn’t know they were fairies, but I would soon.)

I enjoyed the first half of this story because of the interaction of Aelyn and his mortal spouse. But there’s a twist and it’s one that doesn’t go for me, so the ending fell flat.

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Written by Chance

October 25, 2010 at 8:04 pm

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