Jan 23rd, 2018, Aurelia by Lisa Mason, Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, Jan/Feb 2018

Another fantastic piece in what is shaping up to be a fantastic issue of F&SF. While the last piece I read out of this issue, The Equationist by J.D. Moyer, was my favorite story out of the issue at the time, it will have to share the podium with this gem as well–though I like them for very different reasons.

Aurelia is the story of a debaucherous lawyer who is presented with the woman of his dreams. She lives in a manner overlooking the San Fransisco Bay, and but a nefarious person is trying to buy her property. She hires the protagonist, Robert, to be her lawyer, but quickly seduces him–though as he is looking for a wife to make himself look more respectable than he already is–the seduction is mutual. They are married within a month, and their sex is like nothing Robert has experienced.

However, Robert still hungers for sexual relations with nearly every woman he comes into contact with. He cheats on his wife with his psychologist, with the intern, with the lowly tax attorney when he is away on a work trip.

And that isn’t all that’s wrong either. Aurelia, Roberts wife, has an art studio above the garage. He has only been inside once, and only with her permission. It holds a sense of decay and has burlap twine crisscrossing it so that you have to duck and weave around it. Everything about this studio is wrong, in comparison to everything about the manor next door. It is decadent and majestic, while the studio is decaying and dark.

That’s a pretty good set up. Obviously, Aurelia isn’t what she seems, and there are lots of hints along the way for readers to figure out what will happen before it does.

It is a gothic tale, but also rather fairy tale-esk in the telling. A thoroughly enjoyable experience from a writer I’ll certainly look for in the future. (A)