Corvids are fascinating creatures. My favorite birds, in fact. I’ve looked forward to reading “Corvidae” ever since editor Rhonda Parrish put out a submission call, and it did not disappoint. I really enjoyed that all stories dealt with the supernatural and folkloric aspect of the corvidae, and that each story was distinct in terms of characters, setting, and story. Here are some of my favorite stories, in the order they appear in the anthology:
Whistles and Trills by Kat Otis
Set during an alternative version of World War II, the main character Morgaine survives an airplane crash in the alps, where she’s in danger of coming face-to-face with the Nazi allies, the ice giants, or as Otis calls them, the Frost Chieftaincies. Morgaine encounters a curious Chough who has motives she’s initially unaware of, and the story ends with a victorious hope.
The Valravn by Megan Fennell
On a stormy night in a little cabin in a Medieval forest, Klara and her mother receive a mysterious visitor at their doorstep. He is a storyteller named Rikard the Bard, and despite Klara’s fascination with him, her mother’s hesitation to provide him shelter from the storm is an omen of the bard’s true nature.
Visiting Hours by Michael S. Pack
Even set in a hospital in contemporary times, Pack manages to weave in folkloric magic in times of grief when the main character, Lorraine, is mourning for the impending death of her terminally ill son. A raven appears as a recurring character, and the grandmother of one of the young patients tells Lorraine that ravens come for everyone, frightening Lorraine, especially with the open-ended conclusion to the story.
Raven No More by Adria Laycraft
Running away from abusive boyfriend, Sandra runs away into the wilderness and encounters a trickster raven who, at her impulsive request, changes her into a raven. Nuu-Chah-Nulth culture is featured prominently, for when Sandra realizes that she hasn’t seen the last of her abusive ex, in her attempts to turn back into human, she becomes a white raven, a harbinger of the end of the world. I appreciate learning Nuu-Chah-Nulth folklore, and Sandra’s raven tattoo in her human form is a powerful and symbolic touch.
The Tell-Tale Heart of Existence by Michael M. Rader
In this very captivating (and morbidly hilarious!) twist on Edgar Allan Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart, a PhD student’s thesis was rejected by the thesis committee, inciting him to carry out his revenge by targeting his adviser, Dr. Dupain. Feeling that Dr. Dupain was a bastard who had exploited said PhD student’s best years, he sets out to kill the old man, only to face quite a surprising twist that I didn’t expect. The narrator’s language, mimicking the cadence of Poe’s tale, is thoroughly engaging until the final sentence of this dark tale.
Sanctuary by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Sophie, a wildlife rehabilitator, narrowly misses hitting an injured crow with her car. She takes in the crow, Annabel, and trains her for a research project with the hopes that the research will earn her and her rehabilitation center a grant cash prize. While working on her research, a mysterious young man named Jun, who had saved Annabel from Sophie’s car, appears at odd hours to help out with her research. However, it seems that no one else aside from Sophie and Annabel is aware of Jun’s existence. The growing friendship between Sophie and Jun was very intriguing, and the shocking ending makes me look forward to reading the follow-up to this story in Corvidae‘s companion anthology Scarecrow.
Postcards from the Abyss by Jane Yolen
A beautiful poem on grieving the passing of loved ones and connecting with them with memories and stories. Corvids are featured as agents passing between the world of the living and the dead.
Flight by Angela Slatter
This enchanting fairy tale was a great way to end this anthology. Princess Emer finds herself transforming into a raven against her will, due to the curse of her aunt, the Black Bride. When she finds herself a captive of the Black Bride, her mother, the White Bride, trades herself for Emer’s freedom, and it is up to Emer to save her mother with the aid of a talking raven named Bertok.