Of Sorrow and Such

March 8, 2017 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , , )

sorrowOf Sorrow and Such by Angela Slatter

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Of Sorrow and Such is a story about witches, but it’s also a story about women, women in a time where they have little power, women who have to support each other so that all may survive. Witches have power, despite the men who try to keep them from it, but witches also have cunning. It’s no coincidence that the root of the word “witch” is “wit”, and this novella shows us just how that came to be.

It’s not a gentle story, but it’s gently told. The narrative has a minimal style, so whenever something horrifying happens, it’s told in a direct, almost clinical way. You can imagine the story being not whispered to you, but told to you in a steady, persistent voice; it’s not emotionless, but it’s at least calm and collected.

This style matches the theme of the novella perfectly. As mentioned above, the characters are witches, women with power who have to wield it with caution, even in private, since women with power threaten men who think they have it. It doesn’t pay to flaunt that power, so it doesn’t pay to write the narrative in a bold, ambitious way.  Reveal only what you must, only to the people who have to see it, and even then, protect yourself from any possible retaliation.

I’m stunned at how good a writer Slatter is. Her characterization skills, her plotting skills, her settings … all of it is way above par, but she’s been writing for a long time, and it shows. Looked at from afar, the story isn’t necessarily original, but Slatter’s distinctiveness comes from her prose, and it is, after all, not the story, but she who tells it.

Find this novella and read it as soon as you can. It’s extraordinary.

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