Bone and Jewel Creatures by Elizabeth Bear

Few family feuds feature gem-studded automatons facing off against zombies, but this quirky short fantasy by Hugo-winner Bear (By the Mountain Bound) is the exception. When aging wizard Bijou the Artificer starts encountering people and animals infected with a flesh-decaying spell, she prepares for a long-delayed confrontation with her ex-lover, Kaulas the Necromancer. Each desires the allegiance of Brazen the Enchanter, Bijou’s former apprentice, and their weapons include Emeraude, a feral child raised by jackals. Bear provides a sympathetic portrait, drawn in part through Emeraude’s nonverbal perceptions, of a dedicated master coming to terms with the end of her life and determined to honor her commitments to the end. The vagueness of the (Persian? Turkish? Proven├žal?) setting distracts only a little from the exploration of love and loyalty at the core of this engaging tale. –Publishers Weekly