I’ll start by saying that Vanessa Fogg and have been critique partners for a while now. I first met her through her story, The Wave, which impressed me deeply while leaving me with very little to critique. I’ve learned to value her comments on my stories as much as I admire her writing.
In her novella, The Lilies of Dawn, Vanessa gives us lyricism that swept away any attempt I might make to be impartial. She has a gift for the beautiful phrase but unlike many ‘literary’ writers, she never lets it get in the way of telling a good story. Here it’s the story of Kai, a young woman whose community faces ruin as a flock of rapacious cranes fly in to devour the eponymous lilies that they depend on.
In Kai’s world, a flock of cranes is not a problem that can be solved with a scarecrow. As the lilies are far more than flowers floating on a lake, so the cranes are far more than an flock of hungry birds. And who is the handsome and enigmatic Kevak, whose noble bearing is at odds with his expertise at scrubbing floors?
Like all the best fantasy, The Lilies of Dawn has resonance with our own world in our own time, though it refrains from beating us over the head with it. Nevertheless, the more Kai finds out about the cranes, the more I came to think about where else I’d heard about communities defending what they need from newcomers who don’t want to be there in the first place.
Not that I needed that thought to make the story worth reading. I was happy to just enjoy the tale.