Mr. Death by Alix E. Harrow
My rating: 5/5 cats
WELCOME TO DECEMBER PROJECT!
this explanation/intro will be posted before each day’s short story. scroll down to get to the story-review.
this is the SIXTH year of me doing a short story advent calendar as my december project. for those of you new to me or this endeavor, here’s the skinny: every day in december, i will be reading a short story that is 1) available free somewhere on internet, and 2) listed on goodreads as its own discrete entity. there will be links provided for those of you who like to read (or listen to) short stories for free, and also for those of you who have wildly overestimated how many books you can read in a year and are freaking out about not meeting your 2020 reading-challenge goals. i have been gathering links all year when tasty little tales have popped into my feed, but i will also accept additional suggestions, as long as they meet my aforementioned 1), 2) standards.
GR has deleted the pages for several of the stories i’ve read in previous years without warning, leaving me with a bunch of missing reviews and broken links, which makes me feel shitty. i have tried to restore the ones i could, but my to-do list is already a ball of nightmares, so that’s still a work-in-progress. however, because i don’t have a lot of time to waste, i’m not going to bother writing much in the way of reviews for these, in case GR decides to scrap ’em again.
i am doing my best.
DECEMBER 2: MR. DEATH – ALIX HARROW
I’ve been seen before, but not often. For most people I’m a prickle at their hairline, a smudged not-quite-reflection in the mirror behind them, a strange and unwelcome awareness of their heartbeats in their ears. Reapers are the reason fewer people board doomed flights and good dogs sometimes bark at nothing.
i have read a lot of stories about humans—either before or after their deaths—assuming the roles and functions usually attributed to supernatural entities like capital-d death (or in this case, capital-r reaper), but this one is particularly well-executed, which is unsurprising, considering my alix-harrow-shaped readerheart. i am no sentimentalist, and ordinarily this premise—a reaper struggling with the directive to ferry the soul of a two-year-old boy into the afterlife, having conflicted feels about it because of the too-early death of his own son—wouldn’t be my thing, being far too intent on its ham-fisted heartstring-tugging agenda for me to respect it.
although it didn’t make me weep (or even mist up SORRY I AM ROBOT), from a purely critical standpoint, it hits all of its storytelling beats successfully (BEEP BOOP), and its ending is a perfect combo of closure and surprise.
if anyone knows if she has any more stories that qualify for this project, send ’em my way plz.
DECEMBER 1: NIGHT STAND – DANIEL WOODRELL
DECEMBER 3: THE FRUIT OF MY WOMAN – HAN KANG
DECEMBER 4: THE TINDER BOX – KATE ELLIOTT
DECEMBER 5: BABYCAKES – NEIL GAIMAN
DECEMBER 6: HIS MIDDLE NAME WAS NOT JESUS – NOVIOLET BULAWAYO
DECEMBER 7: SING A SONG OF SIXPENCE – LILLI CARRÉ
DECEMBER 8: DARK TIDE – MARK LAWRENCE
DECEMBER 9: DARKER TIDE – MARK LAWRENCE
DECEMBER 10: BREAK – MISHELL BAKER
DECEMBER 11: A RUMOR OF ANGELS – DALE BAILEY
DECEMBER 12: THE ENGLISHMAN – DOUGLAS STUART
DECEMBER 13: IT CAME FROM CRUDEN FARM – MAX BARRY
DECEMBER 14: NO MOON AND FLAT CALM – ELIZABETH BEAR
DECEMBER 15: A STUDY IN SHADOWS – BENJAMIN PERCY
DECEMBER 16: ART APPRECIATION – FIONA MCFARLANE
DECEMBER 17: THE SOUND OF FOOTSTEPS – SILVIA MORENO-GARCIA
DECEMBER 18: WE HAVEN’T GOT THERE YET – HARRY TURTLEDOVE
DECEMBER 19: THE DUNE – STEPHEN KING
DECEMBER 20: THE WORTHINGTON – EMILY CARROLL
DECEMBER 21: SUNBLEACHED – NATHAN BALLINGRUD
DECEMBER 22: BLOOD DAUGHTER – MATTHEW LYONS
DECEMBER 23: THE LINE – AMOR TOWLES
DECEMBER 24: PIGEONS – NIBEDITA SEN
DECEMBER 25: WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED, WHAT WE WILL FORGET, WHAT WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO FORGET – EUGENE LIM
DECEMBER 26: ONE/ZERO – KATHLEEN ANN GOONAN
DECEMBER 27: MATINÉE – ROBERT COOVER
DECEMBER 28: ACCESS – ANDY WEIR
DECEMBER 29: UNNECESSARY THINGS – TATYANA TOLSTAYA
DECEMBER 30: HOOK – DANIELLE MCLAUGHLIN
DECEMBER 31: HE’S VERY WELL READ – CATHERINE LACEY
previous years’ advent calendars (what’s left of ’em):
read my book reviews on goodreads