Hello, my darklings!

I’m not sure if I’ve said it before here on The Writerly Raven, but I love flash fiction. Of course, that wasn’t always the case.

When I was working on my MFA, one of my classes focused on writing it. It was a struggle to tell a complete story in 1,000 words or less. Since then, I’ve gained a bit of skill but, in general, I still prefer to leave it up to those better versed in such things than I. Me, I have a tendency to be far too long-winded.

Regardless, one of my assignments for Tangent Online (TO) this month was to review Flash Fiction Online‘s latest issue. There are four stories in total, and I think you’ll enjoy them. Each one revolves around the fact that relationships…well, they’re complicated.

I’m including the review I wrote for TO below (read it here), but with one key difference: I’m also going to include a review of the reprint.

Normally, I follow the rules for reprints set forth by TO, even though this is my own website. What this means is that, if there’s a reprint, I generally don’t include it here.

But I think I may be doing the author (and readers, in general) a disservice by skipping it. A lot of the time, these stories are new to me, even if they are reprints, so I’m going to start including them here from now on, even if they aren’t included in the TO version of the review.

You’ll note, too, that my natural writing style is a pace different from that required by TO. Hopefully, this doesn’t come across as being too incongruous.

So, without further ado…

“The Vanishing Bride” by William Paul Jones

Five times the Duke has attempted to wed the lovely Lady Larian den Combasta and, five times, she has disappeared before the ceremony can be completed. It’s no mystery where she’s gone. Everyone knows that her former lover, the sorcerer Quesson, placed a return charm upon her years ago. The problem lies in convincing him to break it.

I really like Jones’ story. It’s just so cute! Of course, I don’t think we’re necessarily meant to think it’s cute but, in a way, I think it is. I mean, on one hand, we can all relate to feelings of unrequited love. Most of us can sympathize with not being willing to believe that a relationship has come to an end. I feel for Quesson, even though his actions are questionable. He’s not a bad person; he simply remains madly in love, even if the object of those affections no longer returns them. Relationships are indeed complicated things, and this story showcases that quite well.

“Vixen” by Hannah Whiteoak

Our narrator waits at a restaurant for her date to arrive. Having met on a dating website, it’s the first time she’s meeting him in person. When he finally arrives, there’s a vixen, a female fox, draped around his neck that eyes her suspiciously and growls at her. The date goes well until, a few months later, she asks him about the fox.

What a strange way to show up to a first date—with a live fox draped around one’s shoulders! That imagery alone is enough to draw one into the story. I quite like the use of the various animals to denote the emotional baggage and scarring each character brings with them to the relationship. It’s an excellent read!

“Sunflowers” by Maura Yzmore

Centuries ago, humans ruined the Earth. It’s now little more than a wasteland where nothing grows, and the air is so full of dust that it hides the sun behind thick clouds. Danilo’s lover, Edwin, has once again fallen ill, his lungs and body ravaged by the harsh atmosphere and wind-borne grit. At night, Danilo dreams of a world with two suns, where sunflowers grow and thrive, but this dream is dampened a bit by Edwin’s death. Now, Danilo must look to a future elsewhere.

Like so many flash fiction stories, it’s so hard to summarize this one without giving away too many details. This sad love story is well worth a read, though. I quite liked how the opening paragraph is a hint to what’s to come for Danilo after Edwin’s death, and the progressive interjected scenes that seem like dream sequences but perhaps are not. An interesting read, to be sure.

“A Silhouette Against Armageddon” by John Wiswell (reprint)

Several years after his death, our unnamed narrator lies in his coffin, rattled awake earlier that day by the sound of trumpet blasts, shrieking, and the rumblings of several earthquakes. This latest quake was so violent, his left foot broke off from the force of it. Now, some jackass is digging up his grave, probably in an attempt to steal what little they could find. Kind of ironic, isn’t it, that it’s the End Times and people are willing to rob others? Well, if they get all the way down to his coffin, they’re going to get an earful, that’s for sure.

I’ve got to say, I’m glad I decided to include the reprint. Wiswell’s story is incredibly sweet and really fun to read. I don’t care that we’re basically talking about zombie love… This is sweet. The humor is on point, and that opening hook! How can anyone resist an opener like, “Someone’s trying to get into my coffin?” I sure can’t. Definitely a wonderful read!

Alright, so what do y’all think? Have you had a chance to read the new Flash Fiction Online yet?