Review: “Wishbones” by Cherie Priest

WishbonesWishbones by Cherie Priest
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A monster crawls out of Japanese folklore and into the American landscape while staying true to its root cause. Gashadokuro is a traditional ghoul born of human starvation. According to the all-trustworthy Wikipedia, the ghoul makes and grows his body [upto 15x that of a human adult] by stitching in the bones of humans who’ve died of starvation. The myth goes on to state that the monster also contains all the rage of the dead and preys upon the living by beheading them and drinking their blood until the rage dissipates.

This tale incorporates enough of the myth without spelling it out. In alternating sections, two subplots on two different timelines unfurl:

Near Andersonville, GA, at the height of the Civil War, the Yankee POWs are starving to death since even their captors do not have enough food for themselves. A bony wraith of a monster is seen scavenging the dead that nobody has the energy to bury. The wraith grows . . .

Present day Southern GA 2 miles from Andersonville, a pizza delivery place sits at the edge of the old growth forest. Scott the delivery guy, is freaked from the vibes out by the old POW camp. Dean, the cook, is freaked by the noises emanating from the woods and sometimes closer. Dean’s crush on Lisa, the register girl, turns to concern after she repeatedly calls off. When she shows up, she looks terrible. The guys try to figure out whether the problem is meth or anorexia . . .

This tale appears in Creatures: Thirty Years of Monsters edited by John Langan and Paul Tremblay after first publishing in Aegri Somnia.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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