Wednesday, May 15, 2019

A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies, by Aliz E. Harrow

Apex Magazine, February 2018

Librarians have a solemn duty to connect people with the books they need.

It may be an even more serious and solemn duty than you may have suspected, if the librarian is one of the sisterhood of witch-librarians.

In this case, a witch-librarian is confronted with a teenage boy, a boy in the foster system, who really, truly, sincerely needs escape. She guides him to a number of portal fantasies and other fantasy adventures, and they give him some salve for his spirit--but it's not enough.

What the young man truly needs is not a book, but a Book, one of the magical books that the witch-librarians have made exempt from the rule of giving the reader the book they really need, in an effort to protect themselves from discovery and persecution. (And you thought you knew what triggered the late medieval/early modern witch persecutions.)

I really thoroughly enjoyed this. It's a great fantasy look at what the heart of librarianship really is.


I received this story as part of the 2019 Hugo Voters Packet.

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