C.S.E. Cooney’s “Godmother Lizard” is a delightful fantasy tale about an orphan girl, Ro, and how she becomes a hero by saving her friends from their human-looking mother who was slowly eating them. It takes her two decades to accomplish this, but that’s part of the charm of this story. Cooney deftly uses that time to grow Ro and her friends into adults which changes them from victims to empowered.
I enjoyed the fantastical elements in Ro’s world. The essence of its magic is poignantly captured when Wyll, Jaks’ younger brother, gives Ro his living silver lizard bracelet for protection: “It wound in frantic circles around his finger, mewling all the time, until it had spiraled to rest a blunt triangular head upon his fingernail.”
The story language is rich and colorful, the growing relationship between Ro and Jaks reminiscent of chivalrous lords and ladies. The dialog has a pleasantly oblique edge to it which entranced me from the beginning. I highly recommend it.
I felt the same way when I first read it. “Godmother Lizard” is a marvelously creative fantasy set in a uniquely inventive world — one that Cooney returns to in her upcoming story “Life on the Sun.” Catch it right here as part of our upcoming line of Black Gate Original Fiction.
The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including Judith Berman’s sword & sorcery tale “The Poison Well,” Donald S. Crankshaw’s 50,000-word short novel A Phoenix in Darkness, Aaron Bradford Starr’s adventure tale “The Daughter’s Dowry,” the 25,000-word dark fantasy novella “The Quintessence of Absence” by Sean McLachlan, Harry Connolly’s thrilling mystery “The Whoremaster of Pald,” and Jason E. Thummel’s adventure fantasy novelette “The Duelist” is here.