.Crow Moon is a collection of eight short fantasy tales by writer, editor, artist, publisher, and lord knows what else Cedar Sanderson. Sanderson, who did the art for the cover, also produced artwork for each of the stories. something that set this book apart, and made it worthwhile to purchase a physical copy instead of just the ebook.
Each one of the stories carry with it a sense of wonder, sometimes sweet, sometimes sad, and sometimes awful, in both meanings of the word. The characters span a wide range, from simple people and quiet heroes to monster slaying avatars of dark gods, but they are each defined by their sense of duty, or obligation. The stories revolve around what they are willing to do, what sacrifices they are willing to make in order to fulfill that duty. In other hands, these stories could easily become heavy and overbearing, but Sanderson uses a lighter touch. Instead of bearing down on the weight her characters carry, she focuses instead on how they carry it, showing that courage is not always found in fighting a dragon; sometimes it’s in answering a simple question for a little boy.
Sanderson writes these stories almost like an artist’s sketch. Rather than go into great detail about the settings, the characters, and the backstory, she chooses instead to provide just enough detail to bring the reader into the story. Her deft touch leaves plenty of room for the reader to fill in scenes with their own imagination, and to integrate their own emotions into the story. Reading is always a collaborative process between the writer and the reader; Sanderson brings the reader more deeply into that collaboration, which magnifies the emotional impact of each story.
All eight stories are good reads, but for me, three stand out above the others.
First is Milkweed. I’ve never read anything that so well evokes what it means to be a woman, a wife, and a mother.
Second is A Breathe of Air. It’s short, but Sanderson packs so many emotions into each sentence. The impact builds slowly then hits you right between the eyes. It’s a gorgeous story.
Finally, The Domovoi’s Blessing. Styled as a Russian fairy tale, this charming story is a sweet reminder that trust and perserverence can go a long way towards finding a happy ending.
Those are my favorites, but you may like other stories better, and that’s one of the best things bout this collection. There truly are stories here for everbody, no matter your taste.