From Publishers Weekly
This anthology reprints nine fantasy, SF, and horror stories originally published from 2001 to 2008, including tales geared towards the gay/lesbian and erotica markets. Bernobich's best work centers on luminous hope emanating from wrenching despair: in "Chrysalide," a poor artist who takes something from each subject paints an extraordinary woman who may save her; in "Remembrance," a couple exchanges letters by recording sensation, only emphasizing the grief when one dies; and in "Jump to Zion," a slave is devastated when her master sells away her daughter, prompting her to take action. Standouts include "Poison," with gender-switching downtrodden aliens, and the title story, featuring a horrifyingly unsympathetic protagonist, both stories with extraordinary, evocative settings. Bernobich's lush prose focuses on scent, touch, and word building, and despite a few flat endings and loose narrative threads, it's clear she's a writer to watch.
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In this collection of short stories, veteran sf author Bernobich delivers nine imaginative tales. “Chrysalide” presents painter Claudette Theron, whose inherited talent from her father helps her provide for her mother and her son, and her own portraitist's psychic gift takes her to a studio in the king's palace. From her balcony, servants “clothed in black, scattered onto the grassy clearing like inky blots against the brilliant green,” bringing the young duchess whose likeness she will brilliantly capture and whose soul she will dim in this brooding story of convoluted genius. “Medusa in the Morning,” another moody, sensual story, finds Medusa sipping coffee on the rocks surrounding her ocean-view cottage; when, in her new, lonely freedom from a man, she tosses her hair loose of its knot, she leaves those untethered snakes equally free to stir. In the title story, an expedition to remote islands puts a microbiologist with a wounded heart on a collision course with himself. These vivid tales can't be pigeonholed or labeled, comprising an oddly exceptional read. --Whitney Scott