Rewind is a hard to define work, one I might even style as literary. While starting with a simple premise, this story has a powerful, compelling voice that takes you to the edge of both terror and despair. At the same time, it brings you to those mundane moments of life that define a person when living them and yet become little more than chaff on the wind once the past becomes memory.
The simple premise is one of wanting to recapture the good moments before tragedy. Carlie, though, does more than dream about the possibility. She studies ancient ways (all before the story) and sets about to make a crossroads deal with the darkness to relive the good times. And in the tradition of such bargains, what she intends is not exactly what she gets.
The story follows traditional lines in the crossroads and deals with the devil, but brings to the tradition an element of stubborn determination that makes Carlie come alive. The immediacy of her perspective drags the reader into the story so even those mundane moments take on a new life.
Had it been a literary work by intention as opposed to by feel, Carlie might have been forever trapped in her bargain, never moving forward but never giving up. To avoid spoilers, I’ll say only this: Holly Lisle finds a twist I both expected and didn’t know I expected until it happened, and makes it work.
It’s worth reading the Afterword to see what inspired the novelette and get a glimpse into the author’s mind. This is a story that stands on its own while raising questions whose answers extend far beyond the reach of this short work and open up new possibilities.
I received this work as a reader gift from the author some time back. It slipped through the cracks and when I rediscovered Rewind, I thought it was a different one of her stories altogether. The unfolding of this tale was an unexpected pleasure.