Sunday Short: Ursula Vernon's Jackalope Wives

Sunday, August 30, 2015
This week's Sunday Short was the 2014 Nebula award winning short story, Jackalope Wives by Ursula Vernon, published in Apex. It was also listed in io9's list of what the Hugo ballot this year could have been.
by Lauren Marx

This story begins with a young man in a town who has a touch of magic and a heap of brooding about him. On moonlit nights, this town can hear the wild music of the jackalope wives, who slip out of their jackalope skins and dance. The young man decides that one jackalope wife in particular that he would catch:

She danced farther out from the others and her horns were short and sharp as sickles. She was the last one to put on her rabbit skin when the sun came up.... She danced a little apart from her fellows, as he walked a little apart from his.

The story then takes off as he catches her and throws her skin in the fire. The jackalope wife screams, he realizes the wrongness of what he is doing, and he rescues the skin half-burned from the fire. She tries to put it on, but it doesn't transform her back into a jackalope. The young man goes to his grandma for aid.

I thought it was a beautiful story -- an interesting mash-up of the selkie fairytales and 'modern folktale' of the jackalope. The character of Grandma Harken made it shine, and the ending was delightful. This flavor of magical realism in fantasy/folktale is wonderful, especially in the short story format. This story is definitely worth a read in my book -- 5/5 stars!

Favorite line:  
Perhaps he thought she might understand him. Perhaps he found her as interesting as the girls found him.

Perhaps we shouldn't always get what we want.

Alicia at the blog Cyborg Knight will be reading along and sharing thoughts on the upcoming short stories I am featuring in September.  Look out for a post this week for more information about the upcoming short stories, in case anyone else is interested in reading along.

Next week's short will be the 2014 Nebula nominee The Breath of War by Aliette de Bodar, published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. 

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