Review #26: Violets for Lee by Desirina Boskovich

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Aug 3, 2010 in Reviews |

Published by: Fantasy Magazine, July 19th, 2010

Photo by Keven Krejci Creative Commons

The Story:

A woman who’s good at losing things runs out of sugar while baking a cake for her sister’s birthday. She’s determined to find some, so she sets off shoeless and with a measuring cup in hand, asking neighbor after neighbor until she comes to the house of an old woman with a giant, bleeding heart in her backyard.

The Craft: 20 Master Plots – The Quest

SPOILERS

I almost skipped over this story, because after reading the first couple paragraphs, I was thinking “how interesting could a story be about a woman who goes on a quest to find a cup of sugar?” Well, the answer is very. Typical of Quest plots, this story starts off with the character at home. She’s forced to venture outside out of the necessity of finishing a birthday cake for her sister — her sister’s first birthday since being dead. So her quest is more than just about the sugar, but it’s an emotional quest to deal with the loss of her sister, as well.

She hits up neighbor after neighbor, but no one seems to have the sugar she’s looking for. Finally, she’s sent to Miss Harriet’s house, an older woman who’s lonely, and stalls while finding the sugar just to have company a little longer. Right as the main character starts to contemplate stealing the sugar bowl sitting so obviously on the counter, Miss Harriet asks her if she’s come for the heart. Out in her backyard sits a giant bleeding heart that fills the sky. The character climbs up and into it, pushing through tight flesh and bloody viscera, searching for the heart’s center. Her quest for sugar quickly is replaced by the physical manifestation of her own broken heart and her need to deal with the loss of her sister.

This story is a very touching one, one with great details, descriptions, and high emotional stakes. Halfway through, I went from leaned back in my chair, to sitting with my nose inches from my screen. (I love when a story makes me do that!) The ending has wonderful imagery of the center of the heart being like a child’s tent, a safe place that reminds the main character of all those times spent with her sister in small, intimate spaces — blanket forts in sunny rooms and reading fashion magazines under the covers with flashlights. We feel her heartache and understand her decisions, and I’m glad I kept reading what started off as a simple quest for sugar.

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