Continuing my review of the World Fantasy Award nominees, I just finished The Castle That Jack Built. This is my first review of one of Emily Gilman's stories. I was favorably impressed and well entertained by the story, she is a fine writer and one worth reading.
All this is sounding like damning with faint praise. And I guess it is. It's good solid writing, I can't find any fault with it, and yet I didn't come away with anything really new or interesting to think about. I feel simultaneously pleased, and jaded. After several thousand stories read, that's very likely a normal condition. And yet, I still set expectations high.
Want a plot summary? OK, here ya go, I will try not to spoil it. Jack is at this point free of all desire, a scarecrow standing on his pole in a field. He remembers how he got there, and is at peace with it. But the spell that holds him in the scarecrow can't hold up to a high (possibly magical) wind, and he is blown out of it. Thus begins his journey to recover himself. It's a nice story, and you should go ahead and read it as it is well above the average writing quality you will find. Be content to be comfortable, perhaps more than I am. Three stars for competency in all respects.