Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Gale Group/Five Star
This collection was a finalist for the Endeavour.
"The Skeleton Key" [F&SF] Nominated for a Nebula award, this tale relates teenage girls--Sasha and the narrator--who want to give their lives to a Greek god.
But then the narrator dates Steve, a young man who is a leader of a Satanic cult. But when she is shackled and slowly killed, the god Hermes arrives: "I'm sorry I'm late." She's not quite ready to go, though. He hands her skeleton key that allows her to unlock the souls of others. She opens up the souls of her parents and relates what has happened to her. They reunite with Sasha and find Steve....
The girls in their youth are charmingly sketched:
"We taught ourselves the Greek alphabet to the extent of using it as a replacement code for regular letters, and we wrote each other notes we had trouble decoding."Another great tale by Hoffman. Skeleton key and the afterlife interaction with life is pretty cool. Look for it.
"Objects of Desire" [Alien Pets] In a world where even kids have credit ratings, everybody at school is getting skewlis, so desires our narrator even though her family can't afford. She gets one for her birthday. Her skewlis, she named Vespa, doesn't quite behave the same. Vespa puts its paw to her head and says that its an alien, studying humans. It tries to train the narrator to stop wanting so much. But is wanting part of who she is? Would she become less, become a zombie? This trails off--perhaps because she's in a better place.