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This story was published in the Mithila Review, Issue 1, March 2016. It’s a reprint from Strange Horizons, August 2014.

Baba brings home a dead boy for Daoud to autopsy. Clearly the boy has been tortured before he was killed. After the dissection, Daoud practices reanimating the resurrection points to produce a danse macabre. This is a talent for electrical capacitance that runs in his family. Because the session went well, Daoud’s father lets him work on a live patient in the clinic the next day and he reanimates a numb foot. Afterward an official comes to argue about the dead boy’s death certificate—because he was a Christian, he can’t be buried in the Muslim cemetery. Baba and the official get into an argument about the torture, and later Baba and Ma are fearful because she is a Christian. Fifty Christian houses burn in the town that night. Daoud and Ma receive word that Baba has been killed in an “incident” over the dead Christian boy. After the funeral, Daoud feels the anger building inside him, seeking an outlet.

I won’t give away the ending so readers can better enjoy the story. Malik’s works are new for me. I reviewed his novella The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn from the Nebula Reading List a while back, and thought it was very well done. This is another of the same, except quite a bit stronger. It turns out that Malik does horror well. Because of the author’s background, I gather the setting is Pakistan, and he’s covered a sensitive subject without making any overt statements. Still, the evils of the conflict bleed through, poisoning the lives of people in the village. The story is loaded with symbolism that flows from it.

Four stars.

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