“A deeply evocative and haunting collection… Part rally cry, part warning, part manifesto and all parts enchanting, Sharon Blackie’s Foxfire, Wolfskin is a deeply evocative and haunting collection. I want to press this powerful book into the hands of everyone I know and say listen.” — Holly Ringland, author of The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart
Charged with drama and beauty, this memorable collection by a master storyteller weaves a magical world of possibility and power from female myths of physical renewal, creation and change. It is an extraordinary immersion into the bodies and voices, mindscapes and landscapes, of the shapeshifting women of our native folklore.
Drawing on myth and fairy tales found across Europe from Croatia to Sweden, Ireland to Russia – Sharon Blackie brings to life women’s remarkable ability to transform themselves in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances. These stories 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.
Beautifully illustrated by Helen Nicholson, Foxfire, Wolfskin and Other Stories of Shapeshifting Women is Blackie’s first collection of short stories.
“Sharon Blackie has wrought a new-old magic for our times: glorious, beautiful, passionate myths. They show who we could have been, and they give us a glimpse of a world-that-could-be.” — Manda Scott, author of A Treachery of Spies and Boudica
My thanks to the author, the publisher and the bog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.
The last year has seen me looking to widen my reading horizons and as a result I have developed a yearning to read more short story collections. I love them and appreciate the talent needed to write a perfectly formed story in miniature.
Sharon Blackie’s Foxfire, Wolfskin and other Stories of Shapeshifting Women, is stunning. She has taken the essence of older tales and reimagined them for the modern reader. Each of the individual stories had an intense emotional impact, from laughter to sadness. I found myself contemplating the fact that women still remain in many ways constrained by misogyny and how we are connected to our forebears and the struggles they endured. Yet she also helped me to understand that women now and then have a reservoir of patience and tenacity, that our mothers and grand mothers have passed to us and we pass on down the generations; both through actions and the power of stories.
It is hard to pick a favourite individual story, I loved them all for very different reasons. The Last Man Standing was one of the most beautiful stories I have read in quite some time, it was tender and melancholy. I cried a little and when I finished, I closed my eyes to absorb the beauty of the language. My soul ached a little and I felt an immediate need to share this and the other stories with everyone I knew.
While The Bogman’s Wife had me smiling at the image of a spouse, determined to wreak revenge on the husband who has wronged her. In failing to understand that in trying to tame her essential being, he was both deeply selfish and cruel. This is a tale of a powerful and vengeful shape shifting women, not defined by a world constructed by man. Her very essence is made up by the natural world around her and as the elements around us are mercurial and volatile so is she.
The richness of this reading experience came not only from the power of the tales themselves, but how the author provided a set of notes, outlining the inspiration for each of her stories. I was unfamiliar with many of these myths and fairy tales and they helped me understand the background to each. It really enhanced my enjoyment of Sharon Blackie’s stories and became an integral part of the reading experience for me.
But what makes this collection so remarkable, is that no story feels that it shouldn’t be there. All are magical, powerful and inspiring.
Special mention must go to Helen Nicolson’s illustrations which are exquisite, complementing each story perfectly. They capture the magical nature of the stories and bring an added sense fascination to each.
This is a remarkable collection of short stories from a writer of immense talent. Magical, powerful and it is literature at its most affecting. I want the world to read it.
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Or from Waterstones
About the author
Dr Sharon Blackie is a writer, mythologist and psychologist, and an internationally recognised teacher of the mythic imagination. Her bestselling book, If Women Rose Rooted, won a 2016 Nautilus award, and laid out a haunting heroine’s journey for every woman who finds power, inspiration and solace in the natural world. She has an international following through her online communities, and the courses and workshops she offers through ‘The Hedge School’. Her first novel, The Long Delirious Blue, was described by the Independent on Sunday as ‘hugely potent’. She lives in Connemara, Ireland.