Friday, April 04, 2014

Nebula Award Nominee: "Paranormal Romance", by Christopher Barzak

"Paranormal Romance"
Christopher Barzak
Lightspeed Magazine: June 2013
Nominated for the Nebula Award: Novelette

Witchcraft, love potions, werewolves, and bad dates. At a quick glance, that's some of what "Paranormal Romance" contains, but that's a gross simplification and it's borderline inaccurate because it suggests something else, something lesser.  What we actually have here is the story of a woman who happens to be a witch and who creates temporary love spells for her clients and who has a mother who is concerned about her daughter's lack of a romantic life, even if the daughter is not.

That still makes the story sound trite.  It is not.

This desire for normality also explained why Sheila wanted to kill her mother after she opened the door that evening to find a man dressed in a black leather jacket, tight blue jeans, a black v-neck shirt, and work boots, sporting a scraggly goatee, whose first words were, “Wow, you don’t look like a witch. That’s interesting.”

“Probably the least interesting thing about me,” said Sheila. She tried to restrain herself, but couldn’t refrain from arching her eyebrows as a cat might raise its back. 

This is just the story of a woman. That's it.

While this is a pleasant and enjoyable story and one which I enjoyed reading, I'm not quite convinced this will be near the top of my Nebula list for the novelettes. With that said, I would happily read more stories Christopher Barzak happens to write about Sheila the witch. Or, more about Corinne.

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