“A Wand’s Boy” by Richard Bowes from So Fey: Queer Fairy Fiction from Lethe Press (2009). Edited by Steve Berman.
Oh hell no. I was going along, utterly captivated by this story, when I reached this one particular line and realized it sounded suspiciously like a cliffhanger. My stomach dropped. Sure enough, when I clicked to go to the next page (e-reader version), I found only a blank screen.
I won’t say it happened right when it got good, because it was all good. It happened precisely when it got really, really good. There’s an entire geopolitical landscape of Gentry (faerie folk), half-breeds, and mortals carefully laid out in this story. The mortal world is in ruins. The humans are all would-be refugees, but the Fey won’t allow them passage into their land. The only thing they will allow is for a select number of mortals to inhabit a sort of buffer zone, a land between the two worlds called Maxee. The protagonist is a half-breed, the son of a Wand, or policeman among the Faerie, and a mortal woman. He grew up in the in-between land.
Oh, but you aren’t getting the true jist of things. The residents of Maxee are there because they entice the Gentry in some way. Unlike in our world, youth isn’t prized, and at twenty-seven the protagonist is young. He manages to get by because he inherited his mother’s tavern, some of his father’s magic, and enough intelligence to know that in his world nothing happens accidentally. He was created for a reason; he just doesn’t know what it is. When he meets someone and things between them click, he’s waiting for the other shoe to fall. And that’s the moment when the story stops.
Oh hell no.
I went surfing, naturally, but all I could find was another reviewer’s remark that this is one of three stories in the collection that “beg to be extended into full-length novels”.