Thursday, 4 October 2018

'Beneath the Skin' and 'Rootless'

We reach the end of Figurhead by Carly Holmes with two flash fiction pieces that, taken together, sum up the book rather well.

In 'Beneath the Skin' we follow a woman who feeds a beast, one that lurks on the fringes of a comfortable community. The woman takes meat to what is arguably a werewolf, and also offers him her body. But there is something ambiguous about this apparent sacrifice, a suggestion of complicity in the way she feeds the beast just enough to keep him coming back for more.

'The bargain struck those years ago has become something else. But you don't think about that.'

'Rootless' is a grisly magic-realist reworking of a familiar fairytale, literally. Fairies are real, and they collect teeth. The protagonist is targeted by the little folk throughout her life, and with each tooth they obtain, part of her essential self is torn away. 'I'd sold myself over and over, for a handful of pennies.'

In these and other stories Holmes takes conventional, seemingly outworn ideas and gives us them afresh. She is a remarkably gifted and original writer, with a clear, confident voice. I hope we will see a lot of more of her fiction in years to come.

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