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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

Review: At the Mouth of the River of Bees

At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories - Kij Johnson

At the Mouth of the River of Bees is an interesting and varied pack of stories. Although many of the stories in this collection could easily be labeled as Fantasy, many others escape such simple labeling. Spanning the genres, each stories is unique; while some are more strait-laced fantasy, fairy tales replete with talking animals and beasts of all sizes, others are more contemporary and literary in nature. This wide variety gives the reader many chances to fall for Johnson's stories, but may make this collection seem uneven. Some are extremely brief while others could probably be considered novellas. Some are powerfully shocking, others are simplistically quiet. The fact is, this is quite a mix to come from one author. You may read two or three stories before you find one you like. You may love all of them. Likely, there's something in this collection for most of us.

My personal favorites were “Spar,” “Wolf Trapping,” and “At the Mouth of the River of Bees.” “Ponies” was also a good story, but I'd heard so much about it over the years that I expected something more chilling; in fact, it felt to me like a tamer version of a Shirley Jackson story. For me, “Spar” was the truly haunting story that remains with me like no other one in this collection