REVIEW: August 17, 2018

“That was when we communicated with our first spirit together.”

Rules for Communing with Spirits, by Christopher R. Alonso.

If you’re a fan of Fireside, you’ve likely already read this story, since it came out this July and was accompanied by a really fantastic piece of art done by Charis Loke. If you haven’t read it yet, you can check it out here for free.

Caro and Xenia developed an unusual hobby during the course of their relationship: observing and communicating with the dead. Xenia sees them, but cannot hear them; Caro hears them, but cannot see them. Together, they attended many funerals, even of those they barely knew, acting as a shoulder for the dearly departed to cry on. At least, until they broke up.

I found this story to be a bittersweet kind of cute. Right from the concept of two girls listening to the stories of the dead, down to the very end, the tone remained consistent, and it put me into an almost nostalgic mood. Nostalgia, despite having never been to the kind of funeral described in the story, or been anywhere remotely close to Florida. It’s detailed, yet not in a way that makes it feel far away. It’s detailed just the right amount to make it feel real, and I think that’s something that must have taken a lot of skill on Alonso’s part.

One thing that didn’t exactly bother me, but did make the story take longer, was the liberal use of Spanish. I understand that Xenia and Caro’s race and culture are important to the story; it wouldn’t even be the same tale without that information. But I do think, for stories told in English, it’s better to use less foreign phrases so as to prevent the reader from having to stop and translate, which I definitely had to do a few times. Sadly, my high school Spanish wasn’t quite enough.

Xenia was a very interesting character, and I enjoyed her perspective, I think, because it’s so different from my own. Caro was a lot more relatable, especially when it came to the dynamic between them. Even knowing they would break up from the start of the story, the shifts in their relationship felt real and interesting, and the ending, too, stayed strong. There was just enough information to pique my interest and leave me satisfied all at once.

A 4 out of 5 for this story, and a strong recommendation that you keep a Spanish dictionary close at hand when you read it. Because you should definitely read it, especially if you like ghost stories or stories about second chances.

Christopher R. Alonso has a few other works around the web, which I’m excited to discover in the coming few months, and he can be found on Twitter at @ChrisRAlonso.

Are there any hobbies or skills you have that someone else has gotten you into?