Mid-way through this week’s reading, I found myself in a gloomy wood, dark and astray; Gone from the path direct: and e’en to tell; It were no easy task, how savage and wild those stories, how weird and rough their events, Which to remember only, my dismay; Renews, in bitterness not far from death. But try I will, to recount I must.
Gingerbread homunculi, bombshells begging kindness, and bayou-crossed lovers. I piqued my ears to catch the whispers of the forest and wrested these stories from the ghoulish clutches of gnarly wood. Week 8 approaches on the flight of witches.
There was a time when the woods near Duva ate girls…or so the story goes. But it’s just possible that the danger may be a little bit closer to home. This story is a companion folk tale to Leigh Bardugo’s debut novel, Shadow and Bone.
The Witch of Duva is set in around the forested mountain town of Duva. The disappearance of nearly eight young women has thrown the village into a frenzy; rumors of lecherous conspiracy and cannibalism begin to infect the town. Nadya is a young girl who lives in Duva along with her father, mother, and older brother Maxim. When her mother dies from a wasting disease and hunger during a terrible famine, a woman named Karina Stoyanova begins to court Nadya’s now widowed father. Nadya suspects that Karina is behind the girls’ abduction and may in fact be a khitka, a spiteful bloodthirsty forest spirit who hunger for the flesh of newborns. For the khitka are capable of taking many forms, but the shape it favors most is that of a beautiful woman.
Leigh Bardugo’s Witch of Duva is an exquisite, grotesque, and captivatingly imagined short-story that draws from the generous influence of Russian folk-tales, recreating their cautionary atmosphere and imbuing them with grisly originality born from an astute contemporary self-conscience.
The extent to which (harhar) Bardugo illustrates through her words the cold isolation and stark desperation of the town of Duva goes a long way into convincing me to suspend my disbelief about the preternatural forces encircling it. With all the strange otherworldly happenings that surround this town, the story never lacks in casting suspicion on the townspeople themselves, acknowledging their capacity in becoming the greatest monsters of all.
You’ll think you how this story will go all the way up until three fourths of the way. Believe me, you don’t and you won’t. If you’re a fan of dark contemporary fairy-tales such as John Connolly’s ‘The Book of Lost Things’, you especially should give this story its due.
Dylan has just moved to New Hampshire to live in a house his family has inherited from a great aunt he’s never met. There he meets his cousin, a bully who resents Dylan’s family, and a mysterious girl who claims she can lead him to buried treasure in the woods on the property. The key to helping the girl involves uncovering a dark family secret and righting the wrongs of the past.
- Let’s just get this out of the way:
- Is ‘The Cairn in Slater Woods‘ predictable? ✓ Yes.
- Is it in enjoyable? ✓ Yes.
- Should you read it? Read on and let’s find out…
The Cairn in Slater Woods is an enjoyable snapshot of adolescence coming-of-age, magic realism, and urban legend. The majority of characters are teenagers and as such they act as one could imagine teenagers (or ourselves) at that age. Some are bullies, others are meek, some are shy, others are brash and foolish. Dylan reacts as many teenagers would if put into his situation; he’s been taking from his warm and familiar home in Orlando to spend the last year of high school living in the family house of his departed Aunt Z in New Hampshire. He’s taciturn, hard to approach, and mopey save for in the company of a pretty girl. His cousin “Jimbeau” is an unapologetic ass, Teagan is kind and not-so-subtle love interest, and Vanessa, the “Anime Girl” with the strawberry-blond hair and schoolgirl uniform…well, the less said about her (or all them), the better.
‘Cairn’ is an intriguing fantasy-horror story that feels at home alongside the writings of R.L. Stine and early Dean Koontz. It’s mysterious, it’s fun, and thoroughly breezy and enjoyable overall. The cover art courtesy of Eric Fortune is an apt representation of the story and exquisitely rendered. If any of those things sound like your dish of choice, feel free to dig in. If not, wait on the next course.
Ah, love. A many splendored thing. Here is a rather unusual love story, sweet and strange as could only happen in the post-magical reality of the Indigo Springs “event.”
Calla’s got herself a swamp man. And man, is he a piece of work.
“Instead of hair, he grew whisper-thin stems. Every morning we made a ritual of shaving his scalp, breaking those new-grown shoots. Once when time got away from us and they were left to grow a couple days, he broke out in catkins, a crown of fuzzy, pollen-laden locks of gold.”
She loves him anyway, and he loves her too. But there’s a problem. Aidan is an illegal immigrant.
a couple witches in Oregon had spilled (or unveiled or unleashed, depending on whose spin you were buying) magic into the U.S. Actual friggin’ magic, as June puts it: flying carpets, people wielding lightning bolts, monster fish in Puget Sound, the whole nine yards. Mount St. Helens erupted and terrorist wizards sank a U.S. aircraft carrier. The forest north of Portland overgrew and jammed up with trees—weird, enchanted, supertall trees—and monsters too.
But Canada was supposed to be mostly clean: the government had gone to the expense of posting signs at Burnaby Lake, promising it was safe.
Maybe we were all a little crazy now. Last Christmas our biggest problems had been climate change, the recession, and war in the Middle East. Now it was glowing rabid raccoons sneaking around Seattle, magic-wielding cults fighting the FBI, refugees, missing persons by the thousands, tsunamis, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, quakes in the news every week, and people turning into animals.
Plus climate change, war, and an even worse recession.
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See you next week, December 17!