Hugo Shorts 2019: The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny)

I feel, for some reason, that fiction written from the perspective of dinosaurs is of special interest to me and so I can’t help but be entertained by a story that begins this way:

“Once upon a time, long, long, long, long, long, long, ago, there were three raptor sisters, hatched beneath a lucky star. They lived in a wood together, they stole sheep and cattle together, and all in all, there was no tighter-knit hunting pride of matriarchal dromaeosauridae between the mountains and the sea.”

A trio of Jurrasic Park-style raptors (essentially a modern version of a mythic beast) are placed into a fairytale setting where the raptors are the protagonists. Not surprisingly mammals get hunted and eaten.

A not too bright prince accidentally wanders into the hunting territory of the raptors but his surprise appearance makes the raptors suspect that the surrounding humans are planning something. So, after making a meal of his horse, the life of the prince is spared and one of the raptors chooses to return to prince’s castle in attempt to discover what the humans are attempting.

At court the raptor is befriended by a princess with ambitions to become a witch and from there the story proceeds deftly but unsurprisingly.

It’s an amusing and nicely crafted fairy tale that is exactly what it claims to be. The meeting of raptors and humans does not go well and, as heroes of fairy tales often have to do, the raptors have to use their natural wit to regain the upper hand in their encounter with the humans.

A good story but not a particularly great one. As I said earlier, it is pretty much complete in itself and nicely put together. However, there’s also not much beyond the core premise: raptors in a fairy tale. In a tough set of short story nominees, this one doesn’t have any extra edge.

11 thoughts on “Hugo Shorts 2019: The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny)

  1. This wasn’t for me. Not that it was in any way bad – there’s some great conceits and imagery in it – but I thought the point of the story was delivered early on and then it took a long time winding up.
    The first story by Bolander I encountered was “And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” which I pretty much loved, and then while “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies” wasn’t exactly aimed at me I could appreciate the power and craft of it. But then both this and “The Only Harmless Great Thing” feel messier and less focused.
    Mind you, I don’t think I’m who Bolander is writing for and there’s no need to please everyone – this clearly worked for enough people to make the ballot.


    1. It’s fine in the sense that it pretty much should be exactly how it is as a story, but it’s unexceptional otherwise. A story I’d read and enjoy but not one I’d vote for.


      1. Oh, yes, definitely above no award for me too. While it wasn’t one I wanted to nominate myself, I still liked it and have no objection to its nomination. In fact, I’m tentatively ranking it 2nd. I’ve got one more to read.


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