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"An Unkindness" by Jessica P. Wick from A SINISTER QUARTET a Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy selection • Mythic Delirium Books

“An Unkindness” by Jessica P. Wick from A SINISTER QUARTET a Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy selection

June 5th, 2022 No Comments

We live in an era of time distortion.

Mostly it’s a bloody distressing state, but occasionally there’s a boon — such as this wonderful and unexpected opportunity to congratulate A Sinister Quartet contributor Jessica P. Wick, whose debut novella “An Unkindness” has been selected for inclusion in the latest volume of editor Rich Horton’s Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy series, slated for publication later this year.

How is that a time distortion? Well, not that anyone can keep track of when things happened in our endless Groundhog Day reliving of 2020, but A Sinister Quartet actually was published in 2020 (in fact the second anniversary of the book’s release just slipped by) and the latest edition of Horton’s “Best of” series is in fact the 2021 Edition, delayed by pandemic and economic shenanigans.

All the same, we’re delighted for Jess, and thrilled that this honor befalls our strange and beautiful anthology. A Sinister Quartet is a curious hybrid even by our standards, half fantasy with degrees of dark shading, half horror with a fairy tale tint. “An Unkindness” explicitly ventures in to the realm of princesses and fae queens, but contains scenes as twisted and intense as any horror tale worth its salt.

Just as arresting as the marvels and terrors of the fairy realms as Jess imagines it is the droll voice of our haunted narrator, Princess Ravenna:

The only person who has never pointed out how ridiculous my dread of ravens—and by that reckoning, how ha ha amusing—is my older brother, Aliver. Even friends are ghoulishly eager to explain that not only is it impossible for a ‘mere bird’ to do me injury, but that one lives in my name. This is the last thing I wish to be told, excepting perhaps ‘here is a raven to keep as a pet, look he likes you.’ The words ‘mere bird’ are spoken by those who have never gone hawking or seen crows mob a larger predator or spent any time observing nature at all, and I have received far more raven-themed gifts than anyone, whether their name is Ravenna or not, should be forced to put up with.

If pushed to give a cause for my fear beyond ‘ravens are scary,’ I might mention a terrifying unkindness—was ever a collective noun so apt?—of raven puppets I was given when I was still a child. Each raven was meant to represent a different kind of person I might become in the future, outfitted according to their prophetic narrative. Those puppets lurked in a dark clot above my wardrobe until the nightmares grew so sharp my nurse removed them.

We’re proud to see “An Unkindness” join the ranks of the many stories and poems we’ve published over the years that have become award finalists or winners and selected for Year’s Best showcases — that even though Mythic Delirium is teeny tiny, we remain mighty.

Fortuitously, if you haven’t read “An Unkindness” yet, the e-book edition of A Sinister Quartet happens to be on sale for 99 cents as a part of our promotion of C. S. E. Cooney’s new short fiction collection Dark Breakers. That promotion will last at least through the end of this week, so don’t let it pass you by.

See the deal on A Sinister Quartet e-books

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Cross-posted to Descent Into Light

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