Needles and Bones
Published by Chrysography, an imprint of Drollerie Press, 2009
Reviewed by Donna Quattrone
Needles and Bones is an evocative collection of stories and poems that cover genre favorites such as revisited fairy tales, mythic fiction and speculative literature. The anthology is peopled with angels and demons, pirates, stray gods and legendary creatures from a variety of cultures. The settings range from simple to exotic and, while some of the tales are more absorbing than others, each acts to open a door into the fantastic.
The book begins with a short poem that sets the appropriate tone for this anthology. “Someone Has Broken the Looking Glass Girl” by Lea C. Deschenes transports the reader to a place where sensory logic bends in favor of intuitive perception. It guides the reader gently into suspension of disbelief in anticipation of the wonders found in the stories that follow.
“Heart of the Desert,” by Nyla Nox, is a tale of heat and dreams, longing and sacrifice. There is a hero who is hooked on sweets, a heroine who hangs fairy lights, and a Queen in a castle made complicated by riddles, hallucinations and the fluidity of time.
And speaking of time, Henderson’s “And At That Time Shall Michael Stand” takes place way into the wee hours at a late night diner. The customers are very interesting, indeed, but the musings of the waitress give the story a distinct flavor of wry whimsy.
“Answer Me” is a tale of seduction, choices, and small gifts that can change the world. Odasso is an author who knows her way around words; the prose in this story sways the senses, and the dialog is crafted in a way that is especially effective.
J. C. Miller explores fecund otherness in her ten-part tale titled “ Mother.” It resonates with feminine mysteries, the ways of nature and the turn of the seasons. “Widow’s Walk” also hinges on interconnection with nature. Holmes’ story sings of the sea and of sadness with a lyricism that cannot fail to be moving.
While this is only a partial list of the tales found within Needles and Bones, the entire collection displays a notable strength: it is not afraid to consider both sides of the same coin. Shadow and light, love and lust, and courage and fear are all explored with a marked degree of honesty. The effect is often haunting.
Not to be forgotten: Kudos to cover artist Deena Fisher and also to Tony Hough, who designed the graphics to illustrate the story breaks. Great visuals!