Review of “After the First Comes the Last” by Holly Lyn Walrath


Aria’s first spell is almost an accident, but it fills a need. She wants to lift the stain out of the carpet, so her mother will not know she has been smoking. Beyond that, she fills a need she did not know she had. She is satisfied—happy, empowered—that she could make a spell work. Later, when another spell works in front of her mother, she receives congratulations for her first spell. She does not say anything.

Time goes on, and she works spells for herself and for others. Is she helping those people?


This is a brief, tale, a condensed version of someone growing up and looking back on their life. The metaphor of the spell remains throughout, but it does not mean the same to Aria as an adolescent as it does to Aria when she is a little older. At first, the ability to work a spell is something joyous in itself. Later, Aria thinks she could have used it for something wiser. Then comes the question of what she wants to do with what she has learned.

While this is nothing deep, this is a nice little tale, quickly and nicely told.


According to her blurb, Holly Lyn Walrath’s poetry and short fiction have appeared in Strange Horizons, Fireside Fiction, Luna Station Quarterly, and Liminality. She has a forthcoming chapbook of words and images, Glimmerglass Girl. She holds a B.A. in English from The University of Texas and a Master’s in Creative Writing from the University of Denver.

Title: “After the First Comes the Last”
Author: Holly Lyn Walrath (b. 1985)
First published: Daily Science Fiction, August 13, 2018

The story can be read here.

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

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