“By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain” by Joe Hill
HarperCollins Publishers – April 29, 2014
Review by: Alicia Banks
Synopsis:Little Gail London and her friend Joel Quarrel are out on a cold and lonely morning at the end of summer, when they make the find of the century: a dead plesiosaur, the size of a two-ton truck, washed up on the sand. With the fog swirling about them, they make their plans, fight to defend their discovery, and face for the first time the enormity of mortality itself… all unaware of what else might be out there in the silver water of Lake Champlain.
Our thoughts: Joe Hill has a habit of not disappointing his readers, and “By the Silver Water…” is no exception. The prose in this short story are exquisite. The character development is impressive, especially given the short number of pages allowed to expand and describe the parents and children involved in the tale. It’s the story of the purest snapshot of childhood, that butterflies-in-your-stomach moment of discovery, which inevitably brings about both a rite of passage and that first glimpse of mortality. Gail and Joel are perfect, beautiful, and full of life. This is the day their lives are forever changed, and it grips your heart. As it comes to an end, you don’t want to blink. You don’t want to miss that penultimate moment, that shattering image before Gail wails. And yet, Hill does not show it. It’s left to the reader to paint that picture. And that is just genius.
You can buy the kindle version on Amazon for a mere $0.99, but it’s also part of a bigger short story anthology that came out in 2012 called Shadow Show: All New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury. It’s chockful of short stories by authors such as Margaret Atwood, Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman, Alice Hoffman, and Audrey Niffennegger to name a few. Sounds like a real gem, and I plan on picking it up soon. Happy reading, folks.