Monday, June 12, 2017

The Tomato Thief, by Ursula Vernon

The Tomato Thief is a Hugo nominee for the Novella award this year.  This one fits into the Native American tradition, with some interesting twists.  Our protagonist is an elder (the term isn't used in the story), Grandma Harken.  She grows the best tomatoes in the area, and they are getting stolen.  Turns out the thief is a shapechanger--a woman who is also a mockingbird.  The story revolves around what happens when Grandma Harken catches the thief and learns her story.

Vernon had a story called Jackalope Wives nominated for the Nebula in 2015.  Grandma Harken is the protagonist there also, and there's a brief reference, but you don't have to have read it to appreciate this one.

Vernon has constructed a very interesting world in a short space.  We have magical, sentient trains that speak like mystics.  A child with cholla ribs for bones.  It's a fascinating read, and will be a contender for the award.  I give it a strong 3 stars.

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