Cold Iron is a very short atmospheric piece centering on folk superstition and a ramble through the woods. More details follow the jump.
“Cold Iron” explores the same space from two points of view, that of a superstitious farmer and that of a more scientific clergyman (though there’s some implication that the farmer may be a figment the clergyman’s imagination). It has a certain amount of atmospheric charm, and I encountered no bugs or significant implementation problems.
But there’s not really a lot of there there, ultimately. Both peasant and clergyman are pretty much ciphers, the conflicts they face very mild, the plot so slight as to verge on non-existence. It probably doesn’t help “Cold Iron” that I kept comparing it to The Warbler’s Nest, which also plays with differences of perspective between the superstitious and the scientifically-minded, but achieves a quiet, effective horror; and to A Change in the Weather, which presents a short-ish excursion in nature in a way that feels transformative for the main character. By comparison, “Cold Iron” doesn’t feel like it has that much of a point.
(Edited to add: Carl Muckenhoupt’s review speculates that there’s meant to be more going on here than we initially grasp. But he doesn’t know what that might be either.)
Still, “Cold Iron” is a tidily made little piece and bodes well for the author’s future projects.