This story in Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women stole my heart from the first sentence when the little fox spirit steals a scalp from a corpse. “The Ninth Tale” by Rena Mason is full of prose as delicate—and deadly—as her protagonist Jùhua. From her dainty lotus feet to the hidden bone that lends her the appearance of a maiden, this fox spirit on a mission is one to love.

“The Ninth Tale” by Rena Mason from Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women

This story reads like a brilliant tapestry full of color and intricate detail. From the rich atmosphere to the thoughts of Jùhua, Mason creates a world in just a few pages. Populating this beautiful world are characters that become flesh and breathe from their first paragraph. The story travels to unexpected places I couldn’t guess while maintaining a magical logic that kept me believing.

The most surprising thing to me was the quick affection I had for Mason’s fox spirit. I could so clearly see the intricately decorated maiden she brought to life and I experienced instant adoration. Jùhua evokes the spirit of feminine power. No victim, she is full of wiles she employs to satisfy her wishes. Lively and lovely prose, I hope Rena Mason will bring us more stories of the huli jing soon.

“The Ninth Tale” by Rena Mason is the ninth tale in Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women. Rena Mason is an American author of Thai-Chinese descent, and the Bram Stoker Award® winning author of The Evolutionist and “The Devil’s Throat”, as well as a 2014 Stage 32 / The Blood List Search for New Blood Quarter-Finalist. She writes horror and dark speculative fiction.  

She is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, The International Screenwriters’ Association, and Stage 32. An avid scuba diver, she has traveled the world and enjoys incorporating the experiences into her stories. She currently resides in Reno, Nevada.

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 |
Meet Black Crane Grace Chan |
Meet Black Crane Geneve Flynn |

By Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is a third-generation Ryukyuan-American, award-winning poet, author, and publisher with 20+ years in newspapers. Publisher of Space & Time magazine (est. 1966), two-time Bram Stoker Awards® Winner, and HWA Mentor of the Year, she shares Authortunities, a free weekly calendar of author opportunities at

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