The Horrid Glory of Its Wings by Elizabeth Bear

At times horrifying, at times touching and sad, Elizabeth Bear’s The Horrid Glory of Its Wings is an intense testament to what the Fantasy genre can achieve when it sets out to explore some of the harsly human aspects of our own world. To say much about the plot and themes of the story (short, as it is) would be to ruin the potential emotional impact on the reader, but watching protagonist Desiree struggle with her demons — both psychological and physical — can be frustrating, uncomfortable, and left me feeling like a teenager watching a slasher flick, yelling advice at the page as Desiree struggles against her demons.

The story unfolds delicately, starting with Desiree speaking of the ‘Harpy’, whose tangibility is hard to grasp a hold of, and reveals each new layer of Desiree’s insecurities and the realities of her world at a perfect pace, painting a slow picture of a road with two forks, one light, the other dark. If it touches on melodramatic, it’s easy to forgive.

The Horrid Glory of Its Wings is a startling look at the human condition and our ability to shun help, support and success even when it stares us in the face. But through all this darkness, there is also that desire to overcome, to persevere and throw off our shackles and take what is rightfully ours. It is up to the reader to find the message in this story. Highly recommended.

You can read or download The Horrid Glory of Its Wings by Elizabeth Bear on

  • Adam May 18, 2010 at 2:09 am

    So it’s shit then?

    I’ve got a couple of Bear’s books on my shelf, heard mostly good things and I’m looking forward to reading them. Her Prometheus Club series sounds very ambitious.

  • Shellie - Layers of Thought May 18, 2010 at 9:50 am

    I love the picture and am going to download it now. Cheers!

  • Ove Jansson - Cybermage May 18, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Good review,short and to the point. I like Elizabeth Bear after having read the Jenny Casey trilogy and Jacob’s Ladder. I will go and read it now. Cheers!

  • Joe Sherry May 18, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    Yes, exactly. Bear is awesome. She’s got some fabulous short fiction (“Orm the Beautiful” and “Snow Dragons” come to mind).

    Adam: I love the Promethean Age novels. There’s four so far, two duologies (sort of). She’s got a host of others planned, if only a publisher would buy them. I swear to you that if I won the lottery and was filthy, filthy rich, I’d reintroduce the patronage system and pay her scads of money to write one every few years.

  • […] I did, however, really enjoyed her short story “The Horrid Glory of Its Wings” (REVIEW) I’ve recently stumbled into several glowing reviews of her latest release, Range of Ghosts, […]