The Best of Elizabeth Hand

Elizabeth Hand. Subterranean, $45 (560p) ISBN 978-1-64524-005-1
The 14 stories of this superior collection showcase the versatility of World Fantasy and Nebula Award–winner Hand (the Cass Neary series) while demonstrating an ear for prose that elevates genre tropes to transcendent levels. In “Last Summer at Mars Hill,” for example, a character describes grief as “a country, a place you entered hesitantly, or were thrown into without warning. But once you were there, amidst the roiling formless blackness and stench of despair, you could not leave.” Set in a Maine artists’ colony, the tale offers a moving exploration of what it means to confront mortality, as people facing terminal illness are impacted by mysterious spirits called the Light Children. Hand is equally skilled at evoking all-out horror, as in “The Owl Count,” which follows two people who discover something monstrous while gathering data for a population study. And in the unsettling “Cleopatra Brimstone,” Hand gracefully handles trauma, telling the story of a female entomology student who undergoes an unusual transformation in the aftermath of being raped. Readers will be blown away. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 11/18/2020
Release date: 02/01/2021
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
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