I am back to my favorite website, Free SF Online, for some more World Fantasy award nominees. First in short fiction is The Telling, by Gregory Norman Bossert. I want to have liked it, but it's hard to say I did. The story is told with polish, and Mel the protagonist is engaging enough. But at it's core it's an unmotivated story.
Lord Dellus, master of the House (capitalized of course) has died, and the bees need telling. The task falls to Mel, a child of indeterminate gender whose place in the household is not clear. The Telling does not appear to go well, and both bees and household staff are nervous. Mel goes out in search of answers, finding random people to talk to that eventually lead her to other members of the Dellus family. Mel also seems to have some oneness with the bees.
Why does any of this matter? We have an outline of a rural, unpopulated area, a society of a generically European feudal nature, and a dash of oddity in Mel and his/her relationship with bees. Plot points come together and are explained in time, but the why of it all is still quite mysterious as Mel heads off to future adventures. Maybe this will all work better in a novel. In any case, 2 stars from me--good writing, but not quite enough to write about.