cover image Bone and Jewel Creatures

Bone and Jewel Creatures

Elizabeth Bear, . . Subterranean, $20 (133pp) ISBN 978-1-59606-274-0

Few family feuds feature gem-studded automatons facing off against zombies, but this quirky short fantasy by Hugo-winner Bear (By the Mountain Bound ) is the exception. When aging wizard Bijou the Artificer starts encountering people and animals infected with a flesh-decaying spell, she prepares for a long-delayed confrontation with her ex-lover, Kaulas the Necromancer. Each desires the allegiance of Brazen the Enchanter, Bijou's former apprentice, and their weapons include Emeraude, a feral child raised by jackals. Bear provides a sympathetic portrait, drawn in part through Emeraude's nonverbal perceptions, of a dedicated master coming to terms with the end of her life and determined to honor her commitments to the end. The vagueness of the (Persian? Turkish? Provençal?) setting distracts only a little from the exploration of love and loyalty at the core of this engaging tale. (Apr.)