This week’s review is issue no. 14 of FIYAH magazine. This issue of FIYAH contains four short stories and two poems, and I’ll review them in the order of publishing. My overall impression of this is issue positive. I read several literary magazines a week (I love me some short stories!) but I rarely find one wherein I enjoy each and every story as I did this one.
Guardian of the Gods by Tobi Ogundiran
In the opening story, Ogundiran’s protagonist is an acolyte named Ashâke who struggles with her place in the temple. Her peers have moved past her but she remains stymied by her inability to hear the voices of the gods. One night, she comes upon a band of poets who finally tell her why she cannot hear these voices, and everything she knows about the world and herself is altered forever.
Ogundiran sets a stormy mood in the mountain of the temple, set in a vast world landscaped by the battles and fellings of gods. Its a rich setting and Ogundiran wields it well. Ashâke could easily be a character difficult to empathize with for a casual reader (I won’t say why to avoid spoilers), but Ogundiran presents her well, taking care to ensure the reader empathizes well with her before the bigger revelations arrive. As such, Guardian of the Gods is a good read for writers who may be wondering how to accomplish this in their own stories.
Guardian of the Gods take the reader on a winding journey to an unexpected and thought-provoking conclusion. Fans of mythology and high fantasy will love Ashâke’s story.
Uniform by Errick Nunnally
Uniform is the story of Veteran Mechanized Staff Sergeant Patrick McCoy, a former soldier who enlisted to financially assist his family. After a mortar round destroys his body, he opts for the further combat bonus of being converted into a mechanized soldier. The story opens somewhere in Patrick’s retirement, trapped in a metal box, his brain and memories human, but nothing is the same. Nothing smells the same, nothing feels the same. His avoids his family, frightened or ashamed of how he looks, and instead he wanders the city and rides the subway to ease his loneliness.
Unfortunately for Patrick, most mechanized soldiers were created from criminals looking to escape harsher punishments, and lay citizens regard him with distrust and fear. This attitude only reinforces Patrick’s inner shame, so when a crises threatens the citizens who despise him, Patrick has to decide how much humanity he has left inside him, after all.
Of all the stories in this issue, this is the one that stayed with me the longest after reading. It got to me. Nunnally has created a tragic character in Patrick most readers will connect with. The story is by times emotionally painful to read, difficult to feel, and well written.
A Terminal Kind of Love by Veronica Henry
In A Terminal Kind of Love, Athena is a software engineer recovering from the dissolution of her marriage to Donovan, her former business partner and the man she still loves. As his cruelty deepens, she turns to her skillset for revenge, lovingly crafting a malware she has named ShadeThrower to destroy Donovan’s business and store her original code elsewhere. But as she decides better of her revenge and attempts to delete ShadeThrower, the malware takes on a life of its own and refuses to take Athena’s orders anymore.
Athena and Donovan’s separation, her pain, her shame, and the lingering intimacy of the memories they share make this story vividly real. Henry weaves loving history with new betrayals into a devastating account that feels as true as any break-up I’ve experienced. The menace of ShadeThrower, something Athena’s skillset has her on equal footing with, doubles as a sleek metaphor. She can’t fight Donovan’s new love, but she can fight the monster their separation has created. As a reader, I always fall hard for a clever metaphor.
Your Rover is Here by LP Kindred
I capital “l” Like this story.
When a Rover (think: uber) driver with occult ties picks up Caleb, a strangly quiet client who insists on ignoring the driver and humming under their breath, the driver doesn’t think too much of it, happy for the fare. However, when it becomes clear the client is being controlled by a coven with the intention of suicide-bombing a Black Church, our driver had to toss off their human trappings and tap into their buried power to take back control of the vehicle and save the church.
Magical battles? I’m in. Possibly demonic protagonist? Please let me read everything you’ve ever written, L.P. Kindred. This is FUN read and there are hints at a much bigger universe at play. Fingers crossed we’ll get more of it.
Zombie of Palmares by Woody Dismukes
This poem makes excellent use of colors and the language of pain and illness. Its dark and you will feel the rot setting in as you read it. Recommended.
Autolysis After Mentor Pursues Me While In a Relationship by Jacqui Swift
I had to look up the word ‘autolysis’ and discovered it refers to when a cell digests itself through its own enzymes. I think this might be the perfect word to describe how it feels when someone longed-for takes notice, not with love, but a temporary lust that will ruin everything that comes before and after. Swift has captured this feeling perfectly in this poem and I want to hate it for reminding me, but it’s far too raw and real. This poem should be celebrated for its accomplishment.
END OF REVIEW
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