Fiction Friday [12]: "Little Doors of Blood and Bone" and "Madder Root and Rampion"

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Long time no post! I'll be making up for my absence by spotlighting two pieces of short fiction available for free on the Internet, for my twelfth edition of Fiction Friday. You'll thank me later, because this week's stories are so, so gorgeous.

This Friday's first fiction pick is one that I found completely by accident on Twitter and am now so glad that I did. It's called "Little Doors of Blood and Bone" (don't you adore that title?), and it was written by Katherine Catmull, author of Summer and Bird, a middle grade book that I've been dying to read. The piece was featured on The Cabinet of Curiosities, a short fiction site updated periodically by authors Katherine Catmull, Stefan Bachmann, Claire Legrand, and Emma Trevayne.

This particular story is such a stunning one because of the way the prose and the premise work as a team to grab you and never let you go. That kind of writing - writing that's somehow in tune with itself - is hard to find and even harder to execute, so I admired that in this story. It peels open the layers of everyday life and turns them upside down in a delightfully inventive manner. Also, the magic in this is exquisite. It's one of those "I wish I'd thought of that" kind of things. And the ending! The ending is one of the best things about it.

Here's an excerpt, in case I haven't convinced you yet of this story's merit:
Instead, when Ida peered inside the little door, she saw a blue flame, teased and roused by a silky wind that swirled around it, smelling of smoke and sunbeam-dust. As Ida’s peering face blocked the bone-and-fur door, the wind withdrew, and the flame sank almost to nothing. Scattered around its embers were sharp, curving things—fangs, or claws, or both—and the tiny bones of birds.
The full story is available to read here.

My second Fiction Friday recommendation is "Madder Root and Rampion" by Sean R. Robinson. It was published in the fifth issue of Betwixt, a speculative literary magazine that I've only recently started looking into. From the little tastes I've had of the magazine, I'd definitely recommend it to you all, so do check the rest of the publication out as well as the story I'm highlighting below!

I loved this piece because of the rich descriptions and the subtle air of grief that it was permeated by. The use of second person here is perfection, and the slow but determined progression of the story is absolutely gorgeous. Robinson does a marvelous job of using a palette of words to paint a bold and lasting picture of a fantasy world steeped in mystique while building up characterization.

Here's the customary excerpt to seal the deal:
She has heard of you, scar breeder. Your names are stories in the rampion yards of Rasia and each one whispers down the caravan roads. She listens. You have laid tracks down the wrists of old women. Young men boast in their mead halls that they do not fear your phoenix-bone knife, though they live in the shadow of your tower and will not speak your name.
The full story can be read here.

So there you have it! Go forth and enjoy, and have a wonderful Fiction Friday.
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