So the new issue of BCS arrived today. It's two stories are "The Ivy-Smothered Palisade" by Mike Allen and "Pridecraft" by Christian K. Martinez. The former is described by its author as dark fantasy and it surely is. The second is an interesting sci-fi tale and as such I'll leave its review to worthier parties. This issue's podcast is of last issue's "Bearslayer and the Black Knight" by Tom Crosshill.
"The Ivy-Smothered Palisade" takes the shape of a desperate letter written by Daeliya to her companion, Eyan. In explaining to Eyan about the reason for her disappearance, she's written a letter telling of her childhood, condemnation to an orphanage upon her parents' execution and her escape. From the high-fenced yard of the orphanage she had seen a walled manor covered in ivy and seemingly abandoned. On her escape she heads for the estate but climbing its the palisade of the title is severely injured.
Daeliya awakes to find herself under the care of Leonid, a strangely pale boy given to the study of old tales of horror and mystery. Over time she comes to learn many things, culminating in the nature of the manor and its inhabitants.
I loved this story. It brought to mind, in the best possible way, Brian McNaughton's "Throne of Bones" or a less hashish suffused Clark Ashton Smith story. The roots of "The Ivy-Smothered Palisade", like so much great S&S lie deeply in horror. I'm glad to encounter them in such a well told tale.