Book Review – HYM and HUR by Philip Frey

Title: HYM and HUR
Author: Philip Frey (Website, Twitter, Facebook)
Length: Approximately 8,000 words
Purchase Links: Amazon, Smashwords

HYM and HUR is a somewhat whimsical short story involving two fairy-like beings who make a pact with Death, and in the process cause trouble for an innocent human and his girlfriend. Despite its sometimes uneven characterization, it succeeds as a light read with brisk pacing.

The story revolves around a prank, planned by the titular characters, who are a pair of seemingly immortal young lovers with magical powers. They meet Death, who offers to help them, as long as they agree to some slightly more complex terms than they originally envisioned (hey, there’s no way anything could come of that, right?). After a bit of a false start, they decide on a subject: down-on-his-luck artist Archie, who refuses to paint in color. After Archie prevents his beloved from dying using the power over death he has unknowingly been granted, things quickly start to get out hand thanks to Death’s shenanigans (how surprising), and Hym and Hur must scramble to fix what they’ve set in motion.

What exactly Hym and Hur are or where they get their powers is never explained, although there are some clues scattered throughout the story if a reader wishes to form his or her own conclusions. Perhaps less compelling from a novelty standpoint is Death, the personification of which is certainly a very well-worn fantasy trope. But at least Frey’s incarnation is more lively than most, with a personality that could be best described as making him seem like a bit of an asshole (which is no less than he deserves). The human protagonists are likable enough, and their narrative makes an interesting counter-point to the supernatural plot-line, but they are treated with kid gloves, and never put in real jeopardy that might broaden their characterization.

The impression that HYM and HUR left me with was: amusing and quick, with some nice touches here and there, and written in a simple, straightforward voice (which I like). Unfortunately, I feel like Frey’s writing style became more sloppy as the story went on, almost as if his enthusiasm got the better of him. Wayward participles, misused words (“reeking havoc”) and typos became more noticeable. If Mr. Frey slows down and puts more polish on his work, and tries to plumb some deeper emotional depths, I’d like to see more from him in the future.

Rating: Three ambulatory cadavers out of five.

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