Writer: Lynda Clark
Publishing House: Fairlight Books
Date of Publication: November 1st 2021
Rating: 5 stars
‘’In winter, there’s nothing. Maybe a lone dog walker skirting the edges, but usually just the crows in the yew trees above, cawing threats at the wood pigeons. Silence, punctuated by those harsh, jarring cries, heart-stopping for a moment before the realisation sets in – it’s just a crow.’’
Τhis collection is an exciting, enticing, absurd blend of lore, mythology, Dystopia and fantasy. Each story opens a door to the strange and the improbable, to the world of dreams. And sometimes, to a world full of nightmares.
Sidhe Wood: Sidhe Woods seems to be a strange place for mothers and babies. A baby vanishes and then returns unharmed. But his mother knows that something is not quite right. An eerie story that makes use of the Changeling lore with a very interesting twist.
Ghillie’s Mum: Ghillie’s mother is a shape-shifter. But society doesn’t accept a woman who prefers to be an animal and the relationship between her and her son is threatened by a cruel world. A very imaginative and moving story.
Dreaming In Quantum: A life in dreams and a life in reality. A young scientist’s life is turned upside down when a strange experiment threatens her future. This one was rather confusing…
Frozen: Two children go to play in a maze during a bleak winter’s day. A missing glove, a Minotaur statue and crows. Eerie and unnerving and beautiful.
Shorty: This must be one of the most shocking stories I’ve ever read. The visit of an elderly lady and her new pet dog has dire consequences for her family.
Grandma’s Feast Day: A village community tries to honour the dead and retain its traditions and in a destroyed world where hunger and poverty reign.
Blanks: In a society where humans create humanoids called Blanks in order to live forever, a confused Blank wants to experience the life of a human being and discover its Original. A moving story and surprisingly realistic, given its context.
Mrs Sutherland’s Arms: A girl keeps company to a very special elderly lady and thinks of her father and the terrors of war.
A Winter Crossing: A swimmer braves the winter waters of the mysterious Rathburn Island where strange creatures reside. Or so the legend goes…
Something or Nothing: Humanity is threatened by a disease caused by demonic possession and a woman is trying to exorcise them. There was something cryptic and raw about this story that still perplexes me.
Clockwork Men and Clockwork Dogs and Frogs: I confess I have no idea what this story wanted to convey. I fast-forwarded it after the fourth page…
The Whiskey Situation: Why clone people when you can clone expensive whiskey?
Total Transparency: A tender story in which a husband has to come to terms with the fact that his wife is slowly disappearing.
This Time, Forever: In what is arguably the finest story in an already rich collection, a couple of Undead tries to cope with love troubles starting from 1966 to 2066. Absolutely breathtaking!
Phoenix: A man is trying to bring his beloved back to life through the egg of a phoenix.
Even though the majority of the stories is set in a Dystopian, harsh world, the windows of hope, togetherness and perseverance never close.
Many thanks to Fairlight Books and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.