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"The Mathematical Inevitability of Corvids" by Seanan McGuire

"The Mathematical Inevitability of Corvids" by Seanan McGuire 

This story comes from the anthology "Black Feathers: Dark Avian Tales" edited by Ellen Datlow. 

This was a an interesting story.  A girl named Brenda, has special needs and circumstances.  Somewhere around autism and obsessive compulsion disorder.  She has a mother who loves her, a little half-brother she adores, and a step-father who despises her.  She doesn't have any friends, but it doesn't matter much because she spends all her time looking for patterns. 

She see mathematical patterns in everything around her, but especially in the corvids, which is a bird in the crow family. She sees mathematical rhymes and patterns based on how many corvids she counts that day.  Each number corresponds to a certain word or meaning. The number one means the same thing each time, as does two, three, four, and so forth.  She determines what sort of day it will be based on how many corvids she has counted before she leaves for school. This particular day before she leaves for school she counts nine corvids.  Nine is the number of hell.  She doesn't see it being a good day. 

This story follows Brenda around as she lives with this obsessive nature and her constant endeavor to discover what all the numbers mean.  She only has figured out what so many of the numbers mean and the rhymes that are associated with them.  She spends the story wanting to discover the secret of the numbers.  She wants to know what will happen if she counts eighteen, nineteen, or even twenty corvids.  Then one day it happens, and she counts twenty corvids.  All hell breaks loose. 

I found this story to be completely different than normal stories.  The style in which Seanan McGuire used for this story was absolutely perfect.  It was told through thoughts, and actions with repercussions.  The thoughts were intimate and chaotic.  The actions were her madness with a method.  The repercussions... Well, the repercussions are disastrous. 

If you enjoy a different sort of story with a different kind of feel you will enjoy this story immensely.  It will have you turning the page over and over just to see what will happen next.  Because eventually you too will endeavor to find out what the pattern is, and what the rhyme is, and what will happen if all hell breaks loose.


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