Kathryn - Kat - Allen (katallen) wrote,
Kathryn - Kat - Allen

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Best of Apex Magazine - review #3 - Candy Girl by Chikodili Emelumadu

The three stories after this one in the book all have my love for one reason or another... and I want to read on faster but talking about the meh stories is sloooowing me down (because if I get too far ahead I'll lose contact with what I've read)



There's a fetish known as vore, I believe, where people like to imagine eating or being eaten. There is absolutely nothing wrong in writing about a fetish, or edging close to what other people have as a fetish or, whatever... What goes wrong for me here is a long long beginning and middle to the story (which has a basic anger underlying it) and then a very short told ending which is totally unconvincing and made all the effort I put into the rest of the story a waste.

Here we go...

Candy Girl by Chikodili Emelumadu

The story is told 1st person - and again the protagonists name is fairly absent... I thought it was Ngwa before it started looking like it was Muna, and yet there are plenty of places earlier where it would be normal to say someone's name and so introduce her. But then, Muna is, aside from her snarky, angry, tone... exceedingly passive -- I guess passive aggressive.

At the beginning of the story she pricks her finger on her umbrella -- this is not a thing I have ever imagined doing or having happen outside a Bulgarian spying scenario where it's deliberately made into a weapon but eh. Something other than blood comes from the cut and she... is taken to a clinic by her cousin.

The cousin takes charge, the doctor is high or something, and so the cousin takes her to a witch.

The witch discovers Muna is enchanted and that the culprit is her ex-boyfriend, Paul.

Paul is summoned -- he is in the country because Muna invited him to her wedding (my best explanation is that she thought him seeing her married to another man would make him go away but that's kind of dumb), and has had a spell put on her because he loves her. The umbrella is supposed to be the spindle from Sleeping Beauty... so presumably he wanted her sleeping? Anyhow, long explanation short, he went to a crappy witch and instead of being given the person he loves most he's getting the thing he loves most, which is chocolate.

That was my first biggest bump, once I was used to reading around the anger, the grammar mistake is fun, yes, and familiar, but being given the person he loved most -- as she was married to someone else already -- doesn't seem much like something you'd ask for as a spell. How is she given? For the one you love to love you back even more, sure, but if it's just a one word mistake... It can't be that he wanted to turn her into the one he loves most because he already loves her...

Anyhow, she is turning into chocolate (but Mars favourites not actual chocolate) and there's nothing to be done except for Paul to eat her. Muna panics at this point and needs a phonecall from her beloved husband, Tom, who we've heard nothing about up until now but who is the love of her life and has already gone back to London -- seriously, to put an ex-boyfriend off she invited him to a wedding on a different continent from where Tom and she live at a time when Tom couldn't even stay for a honeymoon, but Muna stayed on, as did Paul because that weird marital arrangement was supposed to impress on him how over he and Muna were... Why do you go all the way to Africa to get married if you're not going to at least go back with your husband after and make like honeymooning rabbits?

Tom is amazing, he's great, he's... been entirely forgettable until needed to say a few words and calm Muna down, because if a guy says 'fight' in a low voice you totally have to do what he says and not keep on panicking. And Tom has had to be introduced so that he can perform a single act in the final paragraph of the story.

There follows a Paul continues to eat Muna sequence, which is fine because the licking he's been doing has already made me queasy. They make him eat all of her in one
sitting, so she'll be intact (even her breast are needed for later). And then she's gone.

At this point you may have thought there was a master plan. I thought there was a master plan. I figured there would be something at least as clever as the grammar error in the spell.

But then we get an explanation that what I've been reading is a book (a really short book?) by Muna. Who, after Paul went home, settled in his balls. (Presumably after he'd pooed the remains of her chocolate body... so did he need to eat all of her or did the witch just enjoy the show?) After taking possession of his testicles she in some unexplained way gradually took over the rest of him, he realised and tried to get himself neutered by doctors -- then tried to cut her off himself but was foiled by her already having the ability to make him faint (And it's not that hard to injure yourself so badly they have to remove the contents of your sack). CE gets to breeze past how he could be on suicide watch and medication without being sectioned and committed beyond what some random stranger could undo (Tom is not a relative even).

So, Muna took over, pushed Tom down into the toes of his right foot and... Tom is now living with a man and no one has asked what happened to his disappeared new wife? She's vanished and he's living with her ex-boyfriend...who he got out of a mental hospital... Will Tom and 'Paul' go to prison for murdering Muna? Does Tom like the gay sex? They're not married now. Will Paul get back in control if Muna tries to have a sex change for him? Or has any operation in which she loses consciousness? Will she go back to the looney-bin if anyone sees this 'book' about her being trapped in a man's body, or have to be medicated back into Paul?

And do I believe that a woman so passive that it wasn't even her idea to go to the doctor (and she mimed a zombie rather than asking WTF was wrong with her) can oust a self-absorbed bastard from his own body and mind?

No. The ability to do that one paragraph ending really wasn't earned.

Or to put it another way -- too many words wasted on unimportant things and not enough attention on connecting me to the ending. Didn't have to be a happy ending. Any ending that vaguely matched the beginning and made some kind of sense would do -- this is like when someone is telling you a long involved story about what happened during their day and then sees a programme they like is starting on TV, so having patiently sat through all the digressions and jokes and observations you get 'and so we stopped worrying about it, the end'... Even if you didn't care that much it's annoying to have the person who has made you listen to all the rest just shut off without finishing properly.

If much of the pointless had been trimmed from the story -- like Tom, all talk of the wedding, the doctor at the clinic, Sleeping Beauty -- there would have been more room for Muna, and even more room to write some portion of how Muna got her groove back, a doubtless angry but reaching for amusing, set of interactions involving Paul, Muna, and perhaps even Ginika. (And yes in my head I've now got Ginika helping her cousin get rid of Paul for good (WTF doesn't she get him into one toe and have Tom cut it off?), then we find out she's always fancied Muna... but that doesn't have to be in the story :P)

As it is, it reads like someone started a story, then just dumped the summary notes on the end and sent it out without realising it wasn't finished, and when they did it was in the pre-publication stages and too late to admit.

Oh I missed the editing error -

Typical. It is just like Paul to make a shambles of things and expect to be praised nonetheless. This is why I broke up with him. Well, one of many.

One of many whats? I presume once there was reference to 'the reason' that would make sense of the last sentence, but somehow that error's been missed in the zine *and* the book I'm reading :(
Tags: #3, apex, review, short fiction
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