Sunday Short: S. L. Huang's Hunting Monsters

Sunday, December 14, 2014
One of the funnest parts of this review feature, for me, is finding new sources of short fiction. I was particularly excited, then, when I found out that the Book Smugglers were starting a short story publishing venture. On their website, they explain: 'With the goal of discovering the best voices in speculative fiction from across the world, Book Smugglers Publishing publishes original short fiction featuring subversive, feminist, and diverse perspectives.'

Book Smugglers Publishing first story, S. L. Huang's Hunting Monsters, was published back in October, and is the short I am featuring this week.

A beautiful retelling of two fairy tales (Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast), it is a story told from the perspective of Xiao Hong, a girl raised by her mother Mei and 'aunt' Rosa. In the world that Huang crafts here, there are beings called Grundwirgen -- humans in animal form. Xiao's mother is arrested and accused of grundwirgen murder, and when Xiao begins to search for evidence in her mother's defense, secrets from the family's past come to light.

I loved this story -- each of the characters was memorable and the retelling unique to my experience with fairy tale retellings. I also enjoyed that the family were all hunters and all female -- anything to promote something other than the traditional 'women are the gentler sex' role in fantasy fiction is a win in my book.

Favorite lines:

My mother taught me to shoot, but it was Auntie Rosa who bought me my first rifle. It was long and sleek and shiny, varnished wood and brass and just my size. I fell in love at first sight.

“Isn’t she a trifle young for a firearm?” said my mother.

“Too young? Ha. Seven is almost too old,” said Auntie Rosa. She reached down and ruffled my hair as I ran my fingers along the stock over and over again, marveling at the living smoothness of the wood. “Happy birthday, child. Careful not to shoot any grundwirgen.”

Apologies for the relatively quiet on the blog lately -- my family was all stricken with colds again and work has been busy. I've still got great plans for the next year and reviews upcoming -- they'll just not be on my original schedule. :(  With that said -- next week, the Sunday Shorts feature will be a little different: I am going to highlight blogs listing their top short stories for 2014. Do you have any favorites?

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