Pitcher Plant by Adam-Troy Castro, Nightmare Magazine, Issue 67, April 2018

Adam-Troy Castro has written some of my favorite short stories in recent years. His dry humor is clever and he constantly takes risks with his narrative forms. This piece is no different.

This piece, written in second person PoV, follows the protagonist into an ever-changing house, with warnings to leave which the protagonist obviously ignores because if they had left then the story would be over.

th_a0580aaeccec739569f2502c0aa86498_nightmare_67_april_2018It becomes clear that the protagonist, or “you,” of this story is the grim reaper or some interpretation of the reaper. You travel through this house, rich descriptions are everywhere, searching for those you must steal.

I took the house to be a metaphor for the universe, or earth, or whatever you believe the cosmos to be. One could interpret this as the reaper taking up the memories of gods that have been forgotten.

What works:

The setting is vivid. Little is left to chance in this piece.

What doesn’t work:

Any story that is written from the perspective of death is pretty cliche. This certainly wasn’t one of my favorite stories by ATC. While the writing was quality and immersive the concept felt lazy, and the overall plot and flow of the piece didn’t do enough to make up for the cliche idea for this piece. Furthermore, I didn’t feel as though there was a payoff for the reader in this piece. Instead, it felt as though the piece consisted of a series of actions with little change for the character other than circumstance, i.e. a lack of emotional or personal change. (C-)


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