Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction From the Margins of History (Review)
ed. Rose Fox and Daniel José Elder
Short form speculative fiction might be my favorite thing to read. I’ve been an anthology junkie for decades, gobbling up everything from Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror to Heavy Metal magazine (I know, I know).
Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction From the Margins of History is absolutely one of the best I’ve ever read. These are the kind of stories I wish each and every anthology was filled with; unusual, haunting, baffling, validating, uplifting. There wasn’t a single tale I’d consider filler. In addition, there is an interior illustration for each story, and they add a lot without being spoiler-y, as can sometimes happen with illustrated anthologies.
Claire Humphrey’s “The Witch of Tarup” seamlessly blends practical magic with assisted communication as it weaves a tapestry of the love that can grow after marriage, and paints complex characters in short, deft strokes. “Medu” by Lisa Bolekaja shows us the American west through the eyes of historically accurate cowboys: African- and Mexican-Americans, including a family whose rough-riding women hide a deadly secret in their hair.
Each story delves into little-known, obscured, or suppressed histories to inspire, horrify, shock and delight: heartbroken zombies in serf rebellions, healing soul-deep schisms in the aftermath of enslavement, and the importance of posthumous marriages.
Ken Liu’s “Knotting Grass, Holding Ring” and “Marigolds” by L.S. Johnson each deal with the fates of sex workers, the former during one of the most famous conflicts of history, and the latter during one that was censored and suppressed for centuries. Victor LeValle’s “Lone Women” gives us a shockingly delicious horror story served up Willa Cather style. “The Ogres of East Africa” by the skilled talesmith Sofia Samatar draws us into and then breaks us out of a colonial nightmare, while the anthology-finishing “Dance of the White Demons” by Sabrina Vourvoulias exudes mysticism, bitterness, and excruciating hope in equal measure.
If you like history, magic, horror, beauty, and redemption in your speculative fiction, Long Hidden is a must-have for your collection. Long Hidden is available in print, ebook, and Kindle editions; find out where to get your copy at the official site here.