Review of Dis by Margo Lerwill
I realize that it might seem impossible for me to write an unbiased review of Margo’s short story “Dis” when she is a very dear friend and my Secret Sister (we’re not really sisters but we might as well be for all that we have in common.) Truth is, I am very bad at saying what people want to hear instead of what is actually in my head. I am a horrible liar. I can’t do it. This trait actually makes my husband crazy because he thinks they forgot to include the lever marked “Tact” when they made me at the human factory. Oops.
So if I didn’t like “Dis” I’d probably just never be able to say anything and avoid eye-contact anytime Margo talked to me. Or we’d have an unfortunate conversation that went something like, “So, um, have you ever tried accounting? I hear it can be a profitable and fulfilling career choice.”
You’re just going to have to believe me when I say I wouldn’t say any of this if I didn’t mean it.
Description via Goodreads: Colbie Moss has bigger concerns than being one of the dísir, the undead avatars of the Norse spirits of fate known as Norns. She has lost a mythic blade entrusted to her by her uptight yuppie mentor, no less than a Norse god of old. Now the blade is in the middle of a gang war that has left a beloved friend on the brink of death. Colbie will have to decide how far she is willing to go to recover the blade, save her friend’s soul, and keep gods and Norns alike from getting wind of the collateral damage.
“Dis” is an Urban Midgard short story, approximately 8,900 words (or roughly 30 pages) of urban fantasy with a noir sensibility that will appeal to fans of Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, and Laurell K. Hamilton
With mythology as popular as it is in fiction these days, there are a surprisingly few people taking advantage of the rich and scandalous mythological history of the Norse which is just one way Margo Lerwill stands out from the crowd of storytellers.
Where Lerwill braids the supernatural unknown with the scary urban landscape of gang warfare and honor delivered at gun point is where this short story really shines. You wouldn’t think that these two very different sets of characters, ideals, and history could mesh so well, but “Dis” steps out as a whole new sort of myth storytelling that is gritty and wounded and believable in a way that Norns and Undead avatars and Old Gods shouldn’t be and yet their inclusion in this modern world is seamless. And it is here that Colbie Moss manages to find humor in a very troubling situation where she must commune with spirits, make deals, and hunt a stolen mythological weapon in gangland.
Colbie is likeable, sympathetic, empowering, but flawed, and Zaj is infuriating, treacherous, and lost beyond the hope that Colbie so desperately wants to see in him. I love it when characters are more (and sometimes less) than what they appear on the surface, and Lerwill has given us the best and worst of both of these characters. Even those characters who never appear “on screen” feel real. As Colbie’s dear friend is dying in a hospital far away from the dark streets of gang territory, we feel her loss with each passing second, though we only know her name and the weight of their friendship.
The writing itself has a unique voice and style that is dark and murderous one moment and subtle and cheeky the next. I love Lerwill’s play on language and the sweeping descriptions that take us right to the heart of this one dark night in the worst part of town without ever feeling like the language is bogging down the quick pace of the narrative. Some of the Asian names might be a little tough for some readers to try and pronounce, but they add to the overall fabric of the story and don’t distract like many hard-to-pronounce names can.
My only gripe is that it is too short and there is too little to read. It feels like a perfect piece of a story plucked from a greater narrative and I really want to get my hands on the whole thing. I want to spend more time in Colbie’s world. I want to know what else these Gods and their mythological objects have done to twist our world. I want to see how Colbie fixes her mistakes and what happens to her when she gets caught up in the schemes of Gods and Fates. I hope Lerwill considers the success of “Dis” to be a jumping off point to give us more of her dark and magical urban fantasy world.
You can purchase Dis for .99 at the following vendors of good books:
(Note: It is nearly impossible to be guarenteed a good time for .99 these days, so what are you waiting for?)
Has anyone posted reviews of their own of “Dis” ? Tell me in the comments and I’ll link you here!