This issue of Jersey Devil Press magazine, as the editors indicate, is “chock full of stories about people betrayed by self, undermined by their own best efforts, and ultimately destined to fail because of their inherent, incurable flaws.” Inside the issue, each character and story is definitely unique, pulling the reader through the issue to figure out what the next surprise is.
Ally Malinenko’s short story, although simple in its metaphor, is enchanting, reminding me of a bed time story or a tale a father might tell his daughter. In it, a girl is born with a rare disorder, Ectopia Cordis—“a child born with their heart on the outside of the chest. But even then it is always at least flesh and blood. It is always a pulpy red organ.” But hers was not: “On her chest, the child’s small heart expanded and contracted, crinkling, made of paper, like an origami box. It was white and seemed to have the exact consistency of tissue paper.” As she grew up, her father warned her not to let anyone touch it for fear that it might be crushed. This was successful until a boy with his own strange quality—he had no tear ducts and so was forever crying—moved to her town.
“Change-Me Chelsey” by Thomas Kearnes was entertaining and humorous as a woman is haunted by her child’s toy. And “Bonnie and Clyde” by Nicola Belte is equally engaging as it portrays the relationship of a “furry” couple that have met on the internet. All of the fiction in this issue is endearing, even with the characters’ unique failures.