“You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay,” by Alyssa Wong.
Published in Uncanny, May/June 2016.
Vanessa Fogg sums this one up:
Her latest story in Uncanny Magazine is classic Alyssa Wong: intense, visceral writing; searing imagery; building horror. An orphan in this alternate Wild West can bring dead things back to life—and perhaps put them to rest as well. Skeletons rise, dead things dance, and there’s an unforgettable scene involving a chicken. In the end, it’s also a beautiful story of loss and love.
The reviewers at OneMore dig deep into the piece:
Full disclosure: I love the desert and I love myth-making. Any story that can combine the two, bringing the desert to haunting life until you can hear the dead and smell the hot breeze is almost certain to win me over.
(…) Is it about trying to come to terms with your heritage? About not fitting in and being unsure where there’s a place for you? Possibly. It’s certainly about love and loyalty and what we’re prepared to sacrifice. And it’s definitely uncanny. Excellent stuff.
Charles Payseur observes:
This is a story that equal parts strange and bleak and beautiful to me, like the desert. Like doomed love. (…) In many ways I read the story as about how sometimes there’s no escaping a situation, a place. Sometimes who you are, who your parents are, and the machinations and plots of those with more power, are damning and inescapable. Which is not to say that those situations are hopeless.
And at Hollywood The Write Way, Melody writes:
This story is a great exploration of what it’s like living with a curse in a survival of the fittest, use everyone for personal gain society, what it means to embrace your identity. It’s a fine exploration of power and expectations, love and boundaries, fear and the limitations it brings, it allows for, it thrives in. Grief and holding on. Moving on. What an intensely rich and sobering mirror of real life.
What did you think? Read the story, and join the discussion in the comments below!