Worm Fid­dling Noc­turne in the Key of a Bro­ken Heart

Kim­berly Lo­jew­ski

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction -

Bur­row Press (SEPTEM­BER) Soft­cover $16 (200pp) 978-1-941681-71-8

Kim­berly Lo­jew­ski’s short sto­ries meld the or­di­nary and the fan­tas­ti­cal with a dark, melan­cholic edge.

The col­lec­tion is of­ten de­light­fully sub­ver­sive. Writ­ten as mod­ern fairy tales, most of the sto­ries cen­ter on a fe­male pro­tag­o­nist; the nar­ra­tives are both charm­ing and, at times, grotesque. Rarely do they end in neat hap­pily-ever-af­ters.

In “The Church of the Liv­ing God & Res­cue Home for Or­phans,” mis­fit girls—born with abil­i­ties as var­ied and bizarre as hous­ing a sun in­side the body, squeezing pre­cious gems from their eyes, and cry­ing blood—are cared for by nuns who at­tempt to marry them off to princes. “The Bal­lad of Spar­row Foot” in­cludes a me­nagerie of half-hu­man mon­sters who long to be set free from the nightly stares of the crowds. The idyl­lic life of a vil­lage full of pup­pets is shat­tered by scan­dal in “The De­cline of a Pro­fes­sional Mar­i­onette.”

Wo­ven through­out the sto­ries is a theme of lost in­no­cence. “One for the Crow” takes a dark turn when a young girl named Talu­lah is se­duced by the mys­te­ri­ous Lu­cien, a boy work­ing her fa­ther’s corn­fields. A mar­i­onette, Cres­sida, also faces se­duc­tion from Aen­gus, an al­lur­ing Ir­ish mar­i­onette. Han­nah is called away from the shel­ter of her grand­mother’s home by the sin­is­ter Rusalki in “When the Wa­ter Witches Come Danc­ing for Their Sup­per.” De­spite the whimsy on the sur­face, a strong cur­rent of wist­ful­ness runs un­derneath, bind­ing the in­di­vid­ual sto­ries to­gether.

The prose is filled with evoca­tive im­agery, much of it fo­cused on wa­ter in its many forms. Love and rev­er­ence for na­ture is ev­i­dent. “Think­ing Like a Hog Deer in the Hi­malayas” is es­pe­cially panoramic with its de­pic­tions of moth girls soar­ing through the snowy moun­tains as they learn to fly.

Of­ten tee­ter­ing on the bound­ary be­tween dream and night­mare, this col­lec­tion is a sat­is­fy­ing and eerie jour­ney into wild realms. MEAGAN LOGSDON

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