Here is another wonderful book written by Juliet Marillier, author of Heart’s Blood (one of the books I’ve used in a previous blog post). Prickle Moon, however, instead of being a full-length novel, is actually an anthology of short stories. And what stunning stories they are! I remember vividly reading this collection aloud to my husband during one of our many road trips to visit family – the last story, based on the Russian folk tale Vasilissa the Fair and her encounter with the witch Baba Yaga, had us so distracted that we got lost while driving! There’s another one in this set that actually brought me to tears, which is a rare accomplishment for a story O_o. Titled “Back and Beyond,” it’s actually a fantastical, romanticized telling of a woman overdosing herself to escape terminal cancer. But the story is so clever that you don’t realize that’s what happening until almost the very end.
Indeed, it’s quite the collection of tiny tales. And yet I never would have even picked it up, had it not been for the fact that I was already familiar with the author and had enjoyed her other works so thoroughly. Short stories are simply not my preferred genre. But I have to admit, there have been several among the short stories I have read that left distinct impressions – like the ones in Prickle Moon that I mentioned above. Sometimes, it seems, the size limitations of writing a “short” story are actually a benefit, as it pushes the author to hit home faster and harder. You can’t pull your punches when you only have a few pages to work in.
But, by far and away, my favorite attribute of short stories is when they are used to expand the existing universe of novels I have already enjoyed. That was the main reason I purchased Prickle Moon: it featured a tale connected to Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series (and those of you who have been reading my blog posts for a while already know how I MUST have the complete story for whatever I read!). This also ties back to why I was so happy to find the short story collection Stars Above by Marissa Meyer, which helped round out her Lunar Chronicles (see earlier post). And of course, this explains why I wrote my own anthology of smaller works. Jesse and Emer may have found their happily-ever-after, but there was still more to their story. The “origin stories” were my way of adding background and depth to my beloved characters.
Of course, not all short stories relate to a full novel. Sometimes stand-alone shorts are simply fantastic all on their own. Which is why my anthology consists of more than just “Love, Blood and Magic.” Both my husband and my mother just love “It’s Complicated,” and “I Like You As a Friend, But Not a Zombie” will forever be one of my personal favorites. So when it comes to story-telling, I say don’t judge a tale by the number of pages!
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
Until the next time, keep reading!
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I have two passions: reading and writing. You can't write good stories without first reading good stories - that's my theory, anyway. So this is where I'll share with you the depth of those passions: background on what and why I write, as well as talking about the books that I read and how they impact my writing.