Originally published: 30 July 2020 (Paperback); September 2019 (Hardback)
Author: Sharon Blackie
Published by: September Publishing
Genre: Short stories
Length: 224 pages
Reading dates: 5-6 September 2020
She lived fully, my fox, and I envied her with all my heart. I wanted to dance with her, sister or lover, across the snow-clad vastness of this land. Together, we’d create the Northern Lights. For that is what foxes do – racing over the fells, whipping up the snow with their tails, the friction of it sending up sparks into the midnight sky. This is what makes the aurora’s glow. Revontulet, we call it: foxfire.
Foxfire, Wolfskin and other stories of Shapeshifting Women is a collection of female centred short stories drawing on myths, legends and fairy tales from all across Europe. Stories that are about coming to terms with our animal natures, exploring the ways in which we might renegotiate our fractured relationship with the natural world, and uncovering the wildness – and wilderness – within.
I really enjoyed this collection of short stories. Blackie has written some atmospheric and enjoyable stories, in varying styles. The stories are about love, fertility and of revenge. Some of the women are human, some are mythical creatures, some are shapeshifters.
One of my favourites was I Shall Go Into a Hare in which a young woman Isabel is unable to fall pregnant, but desperately longs for a child. Her great-grandmother was said to be a witch who had the cure for infertility thanks to her magical golden hare. At Easter, Isobel spots a large hare on the seashore and goes to it. The next morning, to her husband’s surprise, her mood is much better and it soon transpires she is pregnant.
I also really liked Meeting Baba Yaga in which a woman who dabbles in spiritualism, takes what seems to be a package holiday to Russia because she wants to connect with the animal inside her. I loved the disbelieving nature of the way she tells us what happened to her while she is staying in the Russian forest with a woman known as Babs!
You can tell Blackie has a love of mythology and has reimagined the tales in these stories. She also gives a brief synopsis of the original legend her stories are based on. They are captivating and evocative and wonderfully magical. A perfect read for the upcoming colder months, I really enjoyed this collection.
Thank you to Charlotte at September Publishing for my gifted copy.
About the author:
Dr Sharon Blackie is an award-winning writer of fiction and non-fiction, a psychologist who has specialised both in neuroscience and narrative, and a mythologist with a specialisation in Celtic Studies. Her unique approach to working with myth, fairy tales and folklore highlights the insights these traditions can offer us into authentic and meaningful ways of being which are founded on a deep sense of belonging to place, a rootedness in the land we inhabit.