Fantasy Magazine, “Bones” by Leslie Claire Walker

I’m guessing there’s a problem with the opening paragraph of “Bones” by Leslie Claire Walker, which looks like so:

The crows dove from the pregnant summer sky, sleek and hungry. Ballard hadn’t fed them in a week. I know — I used to be his apprentice. His birds dug their claws into the limestone and glass of Rite Company Shackles, 899 Louisiana Street, Houston, Texas 77002, which this morning became a subsidiary of HOLY WELL PRISON UNIFORMS AND ACCESSORIES, EVERYTHING FOR THE PRISON-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, IF YOU NEED IT WE’VE GOT IT.

Um. Why am I getting yelled at about prison attire? I’m thinking this shouldn’t be. See, I’m the type of reader that sees things as they are. If a word is bolded, it is bolded for a reason. If a word is in italics or single quotes or highlighted a bright, teenage girl pink then it is so. Okay, let’s move past this…

We have here a man named Smoke who works for Ballard, a fellow that can think you dead and let his crows clean up the mess. The story is, I think, about competing businesses, as well as a slew of other things: death, stress, work ethics, wizards, birds in the sky, deals gone awry. It’s a strange story, not really grounded enough for me to get, but the writing and visuals (I love birds!) were powerful enough to get the job done. Smoke is a very one-sided fellow, and there could’ve been more to him than I first read. He does bad things for a woman, which I guess makes him somewhat likable if a bit shallow. Still, there’s a comparison being made here, one that equates businessmen (or maybe just people in general) to predators. I can see that, but I don’t have to like it. I think this one might be worth a second read, whereby some parts that weren’t as clear on the first go are much more another time through. For some reason, I couldn’t help but think this had a Neil Gaiman feel to it, as if the urban and fantasy mixed with horrofic moments more than enough presented a reality all of its own.

Rating: 7 anonymous stars out of 10

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