Short Stories 366:249 — “A Traitor’s Heart,” by Karina Sumner-Smith

coverOof, this one was dark, and felt like an inexorable fall into something cold and merciless, but it was so well written that I couldn’t look away. Found in The Clan Chronicles: Tales from Plexis, “A Traitor’s Heart” connects us with a woman who has been living under an assumed identity on the grey-to-black side of legality for a while, working with another two not-so-by-the-book fellows and getting by with a modicum of self-sufficiency and making her own choices. Then she realizes something’s up with one of her partners, and things spill a bit out of control, and then things go further sideways.

Learning who the woman really is, and who she has ties to—or owes her entire life and upbringing go—is a twist I won’t spoil, but I will say for readers outside of Czerneda’s shared world, the story works just find on its own: you don’t need to know all the names or players for this to be anything other than what it is: a great story about a woman, organized crime, betrayals, and trying to figure out if there’s a way out or if the only way out is through—or some other, worse, option.

Ultimately, Sumner-Smith ties up the tale in a place that left me shuddering ever-so-slightly at the choices and decisions, but feeling one-hundred-percent that this is what the character would do. This was the option. That’s a delicate balance to pull off when you’ve written a character the reader is cheering for throughout (and I was!). “A Traitor’s Heart” is a great story in and of itself, and it adds great layers to Czerneda’s already complex world-building of the Trade Pact universe.

2 thoughts on “Short Stories 366:249 — “A Traitor’s Heart,” by Karina Sumner-Smith

  1. Karina’s voice is whisky and velvet. She excels at writing flawed, complicated characters who struggle to do what’s right for them in worlds where that might not be obvious, easy, or clean. If you haven’t yet read her Towers trilogy, I’d highly recommend giving it a go.


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