In Cherie Priest's The Button Man and the Murder Tree, it's Chicago in 1971, and Raul is a button man – a professional ender of lives that the Mob needs ended. But something's odd about his most recent assignments. And then there are those mushrooms growing out of his skin...My Thoughts: I'm stepping into the Wild Cards universe with this story. This is equal parts exciting and a little terrifying. Here goes...
I love the dark, noir-ish feel of this world. It's one of those places where anything is possible and the stranger it is, the more likely you are to end up seeing it. While it took me a while to figure out what the "Jokers" were, once that clicked, everything made a creepy, startling sense.
Raul's malady/affliction/whatever it's considered is horrifying in itself. His job doesn't leave room for mistakes and his mushrooms don't stop growing while he's out doing the business he's been sent to do. When he starts looking a little more closely into the people he's being sent to end, fast growing mushrooms on his skin seem like the least of his worries.
For a first foray into this series, I'm going to call it a win. Not only did I enjoy the story, I'm very, very intrigued by the world in general and the craziness that springs from it.
The Button Man and the Murder Tree is a free online read offered through Tor.com.
Paul Cornell's "The Elephant in the Room" is the tale of a young woman who can temporarily take on the superpowers of people she's near...and of the crisis this leads her into as she struggles to deal with an overcontrolling mother, a very strange boyfriend, and the beginning of a career.My Thoughts: I loved that we got some backstory on what caused the superpowers and the differences between the Aces and the Jokers. Again, coming into this series with very little knowledge of what this world it capable of made that very welcome.
Massive pause for Abigail's mother. I just... wow. So much unpleasantness wrapped up in one body. And she doesn't realize how awful she is until it gets shoved in her face. Even then, she probably doesn't realize it - or want to accept it about herself.
Intriguing and sad, I don't know that I liked this one quite as much as the previous story I read but it definitely shed some light on the world and the people who have to survive in it.
The Elephant in the Room is a free online read offered through Tor.com.