THE WISHING POOL and Other Stories

by Tananarive Due

Akashic Books
2023, 296 pages, $29.95

ISBN 978-1-63614-105-3

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The title story tells of a father and his relationship with his daughter. He is getting older, aging badly, in a cabin, and the property has a wading pool nearby. What kind of wishes can the pool grant? Is there still time to save her aging father?

Other memorable stories:

“Haint In the Window.” A progressive bookstore owner realizes he has a ghost who is ravishing the store. What is the ghost’s purpose, with all its vandalism?

“Incident at Bear Creek Lodge.” One boy’s grandmother is a famous actress by the name of Mazelle, or Mazy, Washington. She hides her past “accomplishments,” namely, a movie, “Lazy Mazy Goes to New York.” After the boy watches it from an old reel, his grandmother finds out and becomes livid, angry and embarrassed. What kind of trauma can Mazy be hiding?

“Thursday-Night Shift.” Shana discovers a luxurious velvet stone inside a gift box for her from her Aunt Priscilla. The stone seems strange to Shana, yet precious. A magical stone? But it becomes a talisman, joined to her perhaps in dangerous ways.

Some tales encompass Due’s “Gracetown, North Florida” stories:

In “Suppertime,” Mat tries to flee from a mature bobcat, only to realize it’s her pet, “Bobby,” all grown up. But the woods Bobby roams have an H.P. Lovecraft-like demon creature, a leech monster and Papa comes to the rescue.

“Rumpus Room.” Kat wanders into a diner in Key Largo, homeless, looking for work. She gets work from Ben, whose typical-style house (a large place) needs a handyman. But what about when Ben puts her up in a garden house, nearly hidden in back, a rumpus room? Was the room occupied at one time by Ben’s deceased daughter, Amber? Kat finds some disconcerting things in the bathroom, overwhelmed by knats.

“Migration.” Jazmine Nicole Garey is possessed, or even dangerously schizophrenic, and needs help, needs to be stopped to halt all her murdering. She’s miles from home and plans to return to Graceland.

“Caretaker.” Two-year-old Carson Emory is found, alive and well, in a Gracetown apartment in an apparent murder-suicide. Who was taking care of Carson until, much later on, the bodies of his parents were discovered? What supernatural reality involving ants have kept the toddler alive and well?

“Attachment Disorder.” In Nayima’s world of 2062 in the Republic of California Carrier Territories, the plague of 20 years earlier has wiped out a lot of people. Protective genetic experiments have led to an answer: people such as Nayima who are completely impervious to the plague. But a faction wants them dead, and Nayima and her family must protect themselves.

“The Biographer.” In a world devastated by a pandemic, Olivia Burns realizes she has become a cultural icon as result of an independent film she saw in which she predicted the pandemic. Now, she is of an elite class of people who get their life story recorded by the Biographer, who is taking so much time to complete her work that Olivia is worried. How accurate will the biography be? What potential parts of Olivia’s actual life will the Biographer get wrong?