Short Story Review: “On a Train With a Coyote Ghost” by Robin Wyatt Dunn

2 of 5 stars.

With a nod toward a painting by the same name, this convoluted short tale blends elements of the supernatural into a fantastical modern folk tale. The pieces do not sit smoothly with each other. Also, the simplified language and sentence structure meant to reflect the young narrator are more jarring than helpful in this regard.

A child on a quest [to procure medicine for her grandmother] takes a train from her small Polish village into Russia to find the mystical healer known as Worker. She’s accompanied by a size-morphing ghost of a coyote from the Americas that has its own agenda, for better or for worse. This leans into Native American mythos of the supernatural coyote-trickster god.

Unsatisfying expository on why an American coyote ghost resides in Eastern Europe never gels, but rather distracts from the quest at hand. Worker must choose between helping the girl and the ghost. Both play their part–one as the trickster, the other with earnestness.

This tale appears in Abbreviated Epics, a Third Flatiron Anthology, edited by Juliana Rew.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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