4 of 5 stars.
Included in Chronology published by Curiosity Quills Press, this short story is full of heart. Gideon tells his tale starting with his giddy, anxious waiting on a train platform for his girlfriend, Clementine, to disembark. The mountainous American West comes to life with bank robbers on horseback and a town’s Mormon doc that hands over a fifth of whiskey before stitching a patient up. Gideon’s not looking for trouble–he likes his simple life. But as the first paragraph of the story develops, his life has taken a turn for the worse:
. . . a chill skittered up the back of my neck, and my smile faded. People poured out and scattered, stinking of fear. A few women were in hysterics. I heard the words “robbery” and “murder,” and fur sprouted on my back as I realized Clementine was nowhere to be seen.
So, yes, Gideon’s a werewolf with a broken heart and a mission of revenge thrust upon him. His lupine behavior is never hidden in his account, though he doesn’t advertise it to his fellow town-folk. The supernatural surprise [but not a spoiler, it’s the entire plot] is that he can still hear Clementine’s voice–in ghost form. She, too, now has unfinished business–though she doesn’t recall many details about her undoing.
Romance is not usually my go-to. And star-crossed lovers are a timeless tale, with few fresh tellings. But this is an exceptional and sad tale. Women don’t stick around when Gideon tells them his deal, none except Clementine that is. And then she’s gone. And then not gone, but incorporeal which has its own desperateness about it that can never be solved to satisfaction. He wants her there in ways that she cannot possibly be anymore. And revenge may give a little satisfaction to him and it may completely solve her unfinished business. But what then? She moves on? He loses her again?
I really felt for Gideon’s story, and recommend it.
[Check out my other reviews here.]