Marr’s debut is a collection of emotional, imaginative stories written from a spiritual viewpoint.
Marr, a Benedictine monk at St. Gregory’s Abbey in Three Rivers, Mich., brings his unique perspective to the fantasy genre with this collection of seven stories centering on unusual creatures breaking into our world. Most of the stories have as their protagonist a child, usually a boy, who has problems with his parents, usually involving neglect and/or alcohol, who somehow overcomes his struggles with the inspiration or assistance of a mythological being. These beings range from genies to magic horses to swarms of butterflies to strange trees, and the struggles range from the common, such as missed birthdays, to the extreme, with all-out global war and catastrophe. While Marr’s writing style doesn’t always sound like that of the child in whose voice he is writing, the sheer creativity and heartfelt message behind each story wins the reader over. Marr looks at the things we take for granted—from the daily grind and personal interactions to war, hatred and strife—and, with the addition of his whimsical creatures, examines the necessity and acceptability of these things in a new light. Given his position as a monastic, it is no surprise that many of Marr’s stories focus on music and how we live in community, presenting both as ways to grow closer to each other and to our hearts. Taken as a whole, the stories can sometimes feel repetitive, but each story impresses with its clever thoughtfulness and originality. Religious themes flow throughout—Christian-inspired but never heavy-handed or alienating—making this a collection that lifts the spirit.
Fans of the fantastic, the quirky and the diversity of nature will find new ideas to relish and ponder.