In March I checked out the first issue of Tree and Stone. The magazine is an “online, quarterly speculative/literary, and art magazine dedicated to showcasing incredible stories and art about life, the world, and experiences, tales of wonder.”

The first issue definitely lives up to this pitch. I particularly liked the through-line of the power and magic held by food that ran through many of the stories in Issue 1. From the blackberries of Koji A. Dae’s grim tale of magic and outcasts “Where True Power Lies” to the mango breath of Celeste Rita Baker’s lyrical and cautionary “Mango Fire,” food is an anchor of place and theme in many of the stories.

Srilatha Rajagopal’s “Salt” and Avra Margariti’s “Visiting” both feature food as a tool for opening and closing doorways.

The titular seasoning in “Salt” appears as a woman grieves her father and their relationship. Charu reminisces on the complicated figure from her childhood as she moves towards making a decision about the finality of that relationship. The story is introspective and truthful, and I really loved the way it captured the intricacies of love and family and harm.

Food appears in “Visiting” in a similar anchoring way to “Salt.” “Visiting” beautifully captures the frustration of being a child on an undesired-for trip, of being a child dealing with a death in the family, of being a child butting heads with a parent. The never-ending tide of small injustices a child faces are juxtaposed with the small and powerful choices a child can make, against a fantastical backdrop of dragons and demons.

While not consumed, salt makes another transitional appearance in Léon Othenin-Girard’s “Dark Night By The Sea.” A young adventurer sitting on an overlook by the sea contemplates beginning anew, after a failed quest and failed promise, with the saltwater below as a potential gateway. This story was one of my favorites, with its intermingled salt-tang of bitterness and hope.

Other stories continue the transitional theme. Alyson Tait’s “Mother of the Sea” is a tale of selkies, following the traditional transition from land to sea, woman to seal. The selkie offers her gifts of freedom and family to those who would take them in a story of fierce devotion.

All the stories in Issue 1 contain some element of transition, from life to death, from grieving to acceptance, from loneliness to family. They’re all lovely in their own way, and I would recommend giving the issue a read.

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