Short Story Review: “A Glamour in the Black” by Sylvia Anna Hiven

4 of 5 stars.

“Glamour” takes many forms in life and literature, the latter often considering it a type of magic that beguiles and influences the decisions or impressions of others. The effect is not unlike the value of a beautiful face or famous name or money . . .

This poignant tale shows a darker side to glamour, a girl that just wants to be free of the burden. Keani wants people to know the real her, more so she wants to know the real her for herself. Her glamour comes from a painful parasite beneath the skin of her back. The glamour causes her to look and react exactly as people want to see her. And people respond so well to Keani that her father, a trader, uses her to make tribal trade connections. He promises to help pay for the surgery to free her of her burden once the medical debts are paid from the accident that killed her mother, crippled his legs, and left her without memories but covered in parasites.

Keani attempts her most unlikely trade connection with the clammers–a tribe of clam-fishers living in underground caves that open onto the sea. The isolationist tribe has spurned all previous trade offers for their huge black pearls because “abovers” never know what they want. The glamour immediately attracts Nahoa who takes Keani into the depths of the clam caves.

Nahoa seems to peer through the glamour enough to see the pained girl beneath and lets her in on a secret: the clammers hate the pearls as it takes up space from the real harvest of the meat. Also, the clammers have only ever wanted good knives . . .

This contest-winning tale appears in Writers of the Future 32 edited by David Farland. It’s illustrated
by contest-winning artist, Brandon Knight. I received this new anthology from Netgalley.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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