Maccabees: (Holiday Spectacular Story #9)

As noted here, I’m commenting daily on the WMG Holiday Spectacular—which is a great project that releases a story every day. These might be reviews. Or not. They might be interesting. Or … um … not. They will be fun, though. For me, at least.

Here’s the next story.


Carolyn Ivy Stein

[Warning … there is one point in this discussion that might (or might not) be a tiny spoiler. It may be nothing really, but just in case you’re concerned about such things I recommend you read the story before you scan this bit.]

Underneath the skin, this is a story that’s asking a lot of questions. What is justice? When is vigilantism called for, and when is it not? What is personal responsibility? How do we assess the complexities of people—who are never all one thing, or all another—and how we might want to deal with those complexities at the fringes. Where, exactly, are the fringes? What does it take to dedicate a life to being a protector, and when you do, how does that change you?

There are more questions here, too, perhaps including a few that I’m not qualified to answer, or maybe just not knowledgeable enough to know how to try. I was, for example, unaware of what the title inferred until the story educated me.

I’m interested in those answers, though, and “Maccabees” tries to answer several of them.

The story’s introduction calls this one “grim,” and that’s true enough. We learn at the top of the third paragraph that we’re dealing with hate groups, so at least we can brace for it. That introduction also says the story is going into Cold-Blooded Christmas which makes sense because while the story isn’t a particularly compelling as a crime story (the culprit is found without a lot of effort), the crime itself isn’t really the point. As promised in the opening, the point is to explore how one deals with hate groups. So, yeah, there’s meat to the bone here.

So read the story. As long as you’re ready for a bit of a grind, it’s one that could reward you by sticking with you for a while. Be prepared to think, though. Be prepared to question.

My only real issue is that “Maccabees” feels almost too tight. It’s a big story that, for my taste, could be allowed to breathe a little more. I’m intrigued, for example, by the white space in that last jump. What happens in the year and a half that passes? How does it change the players? I don’t know, but that space feels heavy to me.

I “liked it” as is (if you can “like” something focused on hate crimes), but at the end of the day I’m left wondering if I’d “like” it more as a novella. I think I’d “like” to read it that way and find out.

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