2 of 5 stars.
Included in Chronology published by Curiosity Quills Press, this short story raises a lot of questions in its world-building though it also hints at some intriguing aspects to the dystopian, post-apocalyptic world shown. The United States, and possibly the entire world, devolved into a nuclear war some twenty years earlier. In its wake, a patchwork of nations has arisen. Colorado is a kingdom. Arizona [known as “Zona”] is a theocratic nation with preachers serving as sheriffs. Some Native American reservations have become independent city-states at odds with the former states. [The titular Kingdom of Colorado is never seen in this story–it serves as a promised land from the horrors of Zona.]
Ex-Preacher, Lead, is the protagonist who has lost nearly everything along the way: his wife, his eldest daughter. Now his only hope is that he can get to his wife’s clan in Colorado with his younger daughter, Shine. One of the more intriguing set-ups is Lead’s habit of sleeping hidden outside of the booby-trapped tent in which he keeps his supplies and daughter at night. The dangers of the world, both beast and human, are attracted to the tent and he finds piece of mind in his perceived tactical advantage. Needless to say, their travels are not without conflict.
Many other aspects to the story go unexplained. Lead enjoys Shine “poetic” take on the world and manner of speaking. However, her manner of speaking is also stilted and archaic. With her father as her only real influence, where did she learn to speak so differently regardless of “poetic” perception? Also, it is always raining ash and the skies are smoke-cloud covered, but the apocalypse was twenty years prior. What could be fueling such a constant barrage of ash and why is it not layered thick upon the ground like Pompeii after Vesuvius blew? How it is that Lead does not forage or hunt, but rather relies on only decades-old cans of food for sustenance? And why is the forest bereft of green pine needles when the ghost-town it surrounds is overgrown with Kudzu and moss? These mysteries gnaw at my sense of order, especially as they go unanswered.
[Check out my other reviews here.]