Review of Black Feathers Edited by Ellen Datlow

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Horror stories are oftentimes crime stories exaggerated to grotesque proportions, with the supernatural and uncanny occasionally standing in for the unsolvable; as a genre, it’s a literary detour past thriller and a dive over the boundary into terror. Black Feathers is no different, with a collection of tales of murder and abductions and madness—with birds, helpful or sinister or often both, as its central theme—from authors as renowned for their non-horror writings as Joyce Carol Oates and Pat Cadigan. It is however a lesser-known author who has written what is easily my favorite story from the collection. In “The Crow Palace,” Priya Sharma writes a cold-blooded tale of family and terrible secret bargains…Other short story standouts for me included Seanan McGuire’s “The Mathematical Inevitability of Corvids,” about a young girl who counts birds as a way of preserving her fragile days, and Jeffrey Ford’s “The Murmurations of Vienna Von Drome”, one of the few stories set in a fantastic world. Relatable enough to crime fans, this latter story follows a police investigator on the trail of a serial killer. I also enjoyed the fresh narrative voice of the teenaged first-person narrator in Stephen Graham Jones’s “Pigeon from Hell.” Doreen Sheridan for Criminal Element (Full Review)

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