Short stories about people haunted by loss and transformed by grief.
Ghosts walk through this collection. Witches are rumored. People collect bones, sprout wings, watch their feet turn into hooves. Above all, people tell stories—stories that cast spells, stories that change the world. In “Journey into the Kingdom,” a tale about ghosts who walk out of the sea has a powerful effect on a young widower. In “Anyway,” a mother asks herself what she would sacrifice to save her son’s life. In the collection’s longest story, “The Mothers of Voorhisville,” a group of women are drawn together when they realize their newborn babies have something very strange in common. Not every piece sings, but those that do have a powerful, haunting effect. As the mother of a dead girl puts it in “The Chambered Fruit,” the best of these stories show how “from death, and sorrow, and compromise, you create,” how “this is what it means...to be alive.” Rickert’s (Holiday, 2010, etc.) writing is crystal-clear, moody, occasionally blood-chilling. Her characters maneuver through a world where strange, troubling transformations are possible, but they live and breathe on the page, fully human.
The worlds Rickert creates are fantastical, but her work should appeal not just to fantasy fans, but to anyone who appreciates a well-told tale.