Short Take: “Wither and Other Stories,” Sonora Taylor

Rating: 4 out of 5

I’ve been a fan of Sonora Taylor’s work since stumbling across the oh-so-twisted Without Condition [review]. Her Wither and Other Stories contains four short stories, not all of which fit the horror or apocalyptic milieu.

In “Wither,” Katie’s parents left the Wicked Place (the city) to come to live in the forest. They’re determined to live off of the land as much as possible, and believe that the residents in the city are poisoning themselves by proxy: they poisoned the earth, and now she’s poisoning them through their food. When things go wrong, Katie is forced to decide which sort of end she’d prefer. This is a slow, winding apocalyptic. There’s no sudden world-ending event. People just gradually sicken and die. This story is a bit long and a little heavy-handed with the “we’re poisoning the earth” theme, but it’s still pretty fascinating.

“Nesting” is a very short story which perhaps takes place in the same apocalypse as “Wither”? Maybe? “Smoke Circles” is just an odd little interlude of people around a bonfire. There isn’t a lot to it, but it’s very vivid.

“We Really Shouldn’t” is my favorite story in here. Kelly and Josh run into each other again months after she broke up with him. He wants to reconnect, and the two of them have so very much in common. This one takes some wonderful twists and turns.

I can’t wait to read more of Taylor’s work!

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