Talekyn (talekyn) wrote in 365shortstories,

2016 Story 56

The final story from Clockwork Phoenix 5, edited by Mike Allen:

56. THE SOULS OF HORSES by Beth Cato.  Man, what a fantastic way to conclude this anthology. Cato's story takes place in an alternate history where magic exists. The full extent of the magic isn't quite addressed in the story, but the reader does know that there are those with the ability to move the souls of dying horses into wooden homes -- carousel horses and statues and the like -- if the horse so wishes. But of course, in times of war all inventions are co-opted to the war effort. So Ilsa finds herself conscripted by the Confederate Army to transfer the souls of horses dying from battle wounds into new homes. But not the stationary homes she's always been able to carve for them. The story takes a dark look at how even art is subverted to the war effort but is still full of hope. I fell in love with the characters of Ilsa and Culver, and was curious at the relationship between slave Culver and his master Lieutenant Dennis, and was not happy at the methods Captain Mayfair uses to press Ilsa into service (nothing sexual, mind you. Just underhanded.)  I'd love to see more stories with these characters and in this world.
Tags: 2016, cato

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