Fantasy Reviews Fantasy Short Stories Reviews: The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

Shorts: Hainted

Hainted is a deeply emotional piece, one that tugs at the heartstrings as we follow a young girl watching her family unravel, searching for answers in the coal mines of her hometown. Blooms treats the dynamics of broken men and lost dreams with delicacy, showing us what might happen when the lives we want become the lives we hoped would never come to pass.


Ashley Blooms
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, July/August 2018



A young girl is taken deep into the mine her father works in to find a missing piece of himself he’s left behind. Miners lose parts of themselves after working for so long within the mountain. The author’s haints are mystical half-formed ghosts milling about, doing unnecessary work endlessly, trying to find a purpose away from their hosts. It’s tragic to see so many pieces broken from so many men, toiling away endlessly deep within the mine. The plot device is an explanation for the way men can change when they spend their lives doing such grueling work, devoting their lives to something they know is killing them. Their realities can’t meet their dreams and they break apart. It’s heartbreaking to read.


The young girl begins the story as an innocent, just wanting her family to go back to the way it was. She wants them all to be happy, to laugh and talk and be a normal family. Going into the mine changes her, seeing these broken men, holding their hands and reliving their most important stories. She sees the struggles of so many, sees how hard they work without ever getting ahead. In the end, the innocence is gone, replaced by an understanding that the world doesn’t fulfill your dreams, that parts of you will always go unfulfilled by reality. There are so many different haints milling about the mine, and you wonder how many tragedies are out there, waiting to be heard. How many broken men are still living half-lives, trying to regain those lost pieces but unable to become the men they once were. She leaves a piece of herself behind, the piece that knows they can be a happy family, and that’s the most tragic part of all.


Hainted takes place deep within a mine, abutting a small mining town. The mine itself is a kind of character, groaning and shifting as they descend further into its depths. By the end, I imagined it to be a kind of monster, one that beckons workers inside with the hope of fulfilled dreams, only to steal parts of them when they realize the hard, unforgiving work will only end in brokenness.


Fantasy, Ghosts, Alternate Reality, Drama, Tragedy

Interested in more stories like Hainted? Check out more reviews in our The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction section.

Photo by Lou Batier on Unsplash

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