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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores, February 2019

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Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, February 2019

Red Crows” by Innocent Chizaram Ilo

Reviewed by Jeffrey Steven Abrams

In this mystical, African world, red crows are the homes for souls of children destined to die young. Only by sacrificing the connected crow can the child be free to live a longer life.

When Odera has the procedure performed by an unstable sorceress, something goes horribly wrong, leaving her child, Añulika, half-connected to a crow spirit. This tragedy turns out to be a blessing in disguise. In her dream world, Añulika follows her half -spirit wherever it goes, allowing her to experience previously inaccessible parts of the world.

While a minor character, sorceress Nwilo is the most interesting. Having also lost a young child, she lives in a perpetual state of grief, and no matter how cruel her subsequent actions, she’s impossible to hate.

With references to African gods, and areas around Nigeria, I’m guessing the tale takes place in that region. Perhaps this is what makes parts of the story so brutally difficult to read. The living world is filled with death and hardship. Only in dreams does one find freedom and hope. In “Red Crows” both aspects are treated with poignancy and respect.