From the opening line of “The Red Bride,” by Samantha Henderson, there is a lot you imagine that turns out to be different in truth.
You are to imagine, Twigling, the Red Bride to be a human, such as yourself, although she is in truth a creature of the Var.
Much of the pleasure comes from the unfolding of the world and even the universe it implies. As the onion layers peel away, you realize this is a terrible moment in a larger story, woven of a stunning mixture of folk tale, science fiction, and horror. Like “Somadeva: A Sky River Sutra” this story plays with the role of myth, but here there is no ambiguity about what effect the legend has. At the end, I felt like I had been hit between the eyes with a Wow moment.