Leto is perfect in every way. If a mother could order a daughter from a catalog, it would be this beautiful, obedient and intelligent girl. Except for the dreams… but it would be impolite to bring these up. And no one wants to be impolite to Leto’s mother. She manufactures the perfect daughters.

In a series of visitations, Leto becomes aware of some truths of her own existence. All families change their history with time, through multiple retellings and by embellishing what they wished was the truth. In this story Elaine Cuyegkeng takes the unsettling art of family gaslighting and builds a lush story.

“The Genetic Alchemist’s Daughter” by Elaine Cuyegkeng from Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women

The descriptions, particularly of the genetic animal creations, are dreamlike and lovely. I found myself envious of the fictional people that could afford such dynamic creations. Cuyegkeng creates a science fiction fantasy with the solid vein of horror running through the foundation.

Beautiful desperation… how far will we mother’s go to have the best children?

“The Genetic Alchemist’s Daughter” by Elaine Cuyegkeng is the first story in Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women, an anthology of Asian women in horror. Elaine Cuyegkeng was born in Manila, Philippines, where there are many, many creaky old houses with ghosts inside them. She loves eusocial creatures both real and imaginary, ’80s pop stars, and caffeinated drinks with too much sugar. She now lives in Melbourne with her partner and a rose named Blue. She has been published in Lackington’sThe Dark, and Rocket Kapre. You can find her on @layangabi on Twitter and on Facebook.

Get your copy of Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women
direct from the publisher here.

Find out about the other stories
in Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women (and more)
here under the #amreading tag.

Related links:
Black Cranes: A Review in Verse by Renata Pavrey | Tomes and Tales
Skeleton Hour 04: Black Cranes | Horror Writers
Black Cranes Release Day Panel | Omnium Gatherum
Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women by Lee Murray I | Gingernuts of Horror
Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women by Lee Murray II | Gingernuts of Horror
Meet Black Crane Lee Murray | AngelaYurikoSmith.com
Meet Black Crane Grace Chan | AngelaYurikoSmith.com
Meet Black Crane Geneve Flynn | AngelaYurikoSmith.com

By Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is a third-generation Shimanchu-American and award-winning poet, author, and publisher with 20+ years of experience as a professional writer in nonfiction. Publisher of Space & Time magazine (est. 1966), producer of the Exercise Your Writes YouTube podcast, two-time Bram Stoker Awards® Winner, and HWA Mentor of the Year for 2020. She shares a weekly calendar of author opportunities at authortunities.substack.com.

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