Raphael Ordoñez dives into the blacker depths of storytelling in the “The Scale-Tree.” Zeuxis, a “flying artist and geometer” and his family live in a tower in Enoch, the great world-city that features in several of Ordoñez’s other stories as well as his novel, Dragonfly. Zeuxis tries to provide for his family by selling his paintings but it’s a constant struggle.
When he dies in a flying accident his wife and two children wind up in the middle of a tale inspired by the Grimm’s “The Juniper Tree” (think creepy step-parent, a child at severe risk, and a meal you should definitely not eat). This is one of the more unsettling stories I’ve read in months and one of the best. Ordoñez’s writing is rooted in the less genre-bound styles of early fantasy and fairy tales, coupled with a contemporary concern for creating more complex and fully human characters. If you haven’t read any of his work till now, this is the perfect place to start.I keep up with Black Gate because a shocking number of people who like to read the same slightly obscure things I do hang out there (thank you, Internet), so as always it's a pleasure to have my name appear in its cyber-pages.