Short Story Review: “Shadows of the Darkest Jade” by Sarah Hans

3 of 5 stars.

This short tale of horror and the supernatural captures the unique mix of familiarity and foreignness felt by those returning home after a long time away. It compounds the unease by jumbling religious faith with folk beliefs in the face of something truly horrible.

Two monks from Gandhara travel the Silk Road and then off-road to the Han Kingdom to spread the faith and to find the home village of the younger of the two monks who also narrates this tale. The elder of the 2 monks, Satindra, remains constant in his calm, meditative faith in the Buddha and their order’s Guru. He’s bolstered by their vows of chastity and poverty and trusts that alms and food donations will see them through. The younger’s faith waivers with the growls in his belly as roadside temples morph to stranger and folksier gods and the alms dry up.

Finally, they find a small family of 3 generations of women who feed them heartily for their journey’s tale. When the younger monk recognizes the style of tea they’re given as being like that of his home village, it encourages him to mention a childhood memory of a Festival of the Jade Crane. The grandmother goes hysterical at the mere mention . . .

This tale appears in Whispers of the Abyss 2: The Horrors That Were and Shall Be edited by Kat Rocha. I received this new anthology directly from 01 Publishing through  
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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