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

Apex Magazine #50, July 2013

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Apex #50, July 2013

"To Die for Moonlight" by Sarah Monette
"Abomination Rises on Filthy Wings" by Rachel Swirsky

Reviewed by Stevie Barry

"To Die for Moonlight," by Sarah Monette, has a wonderfully creepy opening paragraph that grabbed my attention right away.

The protagonist is an archivist, sent to organize the very old library of an equally old family. He's been requested specifically, as he's a very distant relative of the family, and is brought to their ancient house conveniently far removed from the nearest town. He doesn't discover their true purpose in summoning him until a week later, when he realizes he's been trapped there.

While the opening was good, I found the rest of the story pretty predictable, and with a few too many clichés. What kept me from completely rolling my eyes was the writing itself. I thought the prose was well-done, eerie in a way that, to an extent, made up for the clichés. Though I could tell early on what was coming, the quality of the prose made me want to keep reading anyway.

Rachel Swirsky's "Abomination Rises on Filthy Wings" comes with a trigger warning, and I thought it was well-earned, because it's a deeply unsettling story. It's outright nauseating in places, but that fits the tone.

It's a little ambiguous as to whether the story is really happening, or is a product of the narrator's mind. Either way, this is not a sane man. He sees everyone around him as alive but rotting, and is convinced the rot spreads to him every time he touches his wife. His descriptions of her and what she does to him are gruesome, but if you have the stomach for it, very well-done.