4 of 5 stars.
Ironically, the intelligence of animals is often quantified by their ability to understand and communicate on human terms. Dolphins and dogs will be granted credit for reacting in specific ways in response to certain words. Koko, the kitten-owning gorilla, still epitomizes animal intelligence for mastering a form of sign language. And yet, humans have yet to master any animal languages . . . whale song, anyone?
This clever tale re-imagines the Rue Morgue [“Street of the Dead House” in sign language] from the POV of the orangutan. And while in Poe’s original, the ape is a brute. Here, the intelligent creature has been trained like Koko and yet plays dumb. The motives of various human and non-human characters play across each other like the inevitable language and cultural barriers informing each character.
This recommended tale appears in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2016 edited by Paula Guran, which I received directly from Prime Books.
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