cover image A Handful of Pearls & Other Stories

A Handful of Pearls & Other Stories

Beth Bernobich, Lethe (Ingram, dist.), $15 paper (248p) ISBN 9781590210109

This anthology reprints nine fantasy, SF, and horror stories originally published from 2001 to 2008, including tales geared towards the gay/lesbian and erotica markets. Bernobich's best work centers on luminous hope emanating from wrenching despair: in "Chrysalide," a poor artist who takes something from each subject paints an extraordinary woman who may save her; in "Remembrance," a couple exchanges letters by recording sensation, only emphasizing the grief when one dies; and in "Jump to Zion," a slave is devastated when her master sells away her daughter, prompting her to take action. Standouts include "Poison," with gender-switching downtrodden aliens, and the title story, featuring a horrifyingly unsympathetic protagonist, both stories with extraordinary, evocative settings. Bernobich's lush prose focuses on scent, touch, and word building, and despite a few flat endings and loose narrative threads, it's clear she's a writer to watch. (Jun.)