Monday, 9 July 2018

'Brown Jenkins'

Before Eve was Lilith, and thereby hang many tales. In this story from Michael Eisele Lilith is the 'backstory' for the existence of witches. Brown Jenkins is a familiar, not to be confused with the being in Lovecraft's 'The Dreams in the Witch House'. No, this one is more like a polecat with hands in place of forepaws. And, in a feature I liked, the story is told in the idiosyncratic spelling of the familiar. In a sense it's a dialect tale, but without the horrendous over-punctuation that so often mars such stories.

Brown Jenkins explains that familiars are assigned to witches, the descendants of Lilith, from conception. However, the familiar cannot be seen until the witch is aware of her powers - which may never happen. In this case, though, the girl called Janet Evelyn (because her parents didn't know they were raising a witch) does find out. She leaves her rural home to go to stay with Granny Wiltse, who sets her on the road to her witchy destiny.

The setting for this story is (I think) the Smoky Mountain region or thereabouts. There are references to a few strange creatures of the woods - the Toller and the Behinder. They are dangerous, according to folklore, but they help Janet in her quest. As a minor aside, Eisele must have read Manly Wade Wellman's 'The Desrick on Yandro', as there are several references that recall that tale.

This is the first of three stories told by Brown Jenkins, and I'm looking for to the next two. It makes for a very pleasant change of tone and pace. The running review continues, undaunted by ludicrous heat levels here in Little Old England.

1 comment:

michael eisele said...


I was prepared for problems with both editor and proofreader when I submitted these three tales as part of the collection. Happily they came through pretty much as I wrote them, which gratified me no end. Especially in the case of the lack of punctuation- I did think it nonsensical that a writer writing more or less as they spoke would find it necessary to indicate missing letters!