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

Strange Horizons -- October 14, 2019

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Strange Horizons, October 14, 2019

"The Great Mandini and the Dead Man's Hand" by Kevin Wabaunsee

Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf

The narrator of "The Great Mandini and the Dead Man's Hand" by Kevin Wabaunsee is a professional card cheat. He meets with a magician, claiming to want to learn his tricks. As their conversation continues, it soon becomes clear that the magician was responsible for ruining the life of the cheat's father. The narrator is after revenge, but their encounter ends in an unexpected way.

Most of this story reads like hardboiled crime fiction, although it contains an important element of fantasy. The author's calm, matter-of-fact style makes the supernatural aspects of the plot seem very believable. A wealth of convincing details create a strong sense of verisimilitude, resulting in the haunting feeling that there is something strange behind ordinary reality.


Victoria Silverwolf is a lousy cardplayer.