Cherry Crow Children
Four novellas of coiling secrets and dread-filled landscapes
Tulliæn spans a fractured mountaintop, where the locals lie and the tourists come to die. Try the honey.
Briskwater crouches deep in the shadow of a dam wall. Ignore the weight of the water hanging overhead, and the little dead girl wandering the streets. Off with you, while you still can.
In Haverny Wood the birds drink blood, the dogs trade their coughings for corpses, the lost children carve up their bodies to run with the crows, and the townsfolk stitch silence into their spleens. You mustn’t talk so wild.
The desert-locked outpost of Boundary boasts the famed manufacturers of flawless timepieces; those who would learn the trade must offer up their eyes as starting materials. Look to your pride; it will eat you alive.
Sooner or later, in every community, fate demands its due — and the currency is blood.
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All the stories in ‘Cherry Crow Children’ are very strong and well worth reading…However, in my opinion the final novella, ‘Cherry Crow Children of Haverny Wood’, was outstanding…probably one of the best new horror stories I have read for a long time.
The settings are engagingly, succinctly drawn, with customs and seasons and economies adding depth to the worlds as the characters navigate the social currents. …The stories draw longer, the worlds deeper and darker; the forest denizens of the eponymous final story are wild and amazing.
As each story unveils its mysteries, as each protagonist pushes the boundaries and pays the price for their investigation, the assured prose is the measured constant.
This twelfth of the Twelve is a high point in a consistently high field.
…The result can be alluring, foreboding, unexpected or gruesome, at times achingly tragic, but always faithfully enacted. Kalin’s fantasy settings carry a truth that most real-world fiction fails even to aspire to, let alone attain. This does not make her stories comfortable reads, necessarily, but however bleak at times the subject matter, the richness of Kalin’s prose provides constant succour. Readers may not end up where they’d been hoping, but they’ll be glad to have gone that way.
…Cherry Crow Children taps into a special darkness, Kalin guiding us with no promise of safety through woods fashioned at least in part from our own devisings. Invested, rapt, helpless, we fall prey to the grotesqueries within.