Saturday, 5 April 2014

Burning Girls by Veronica Schanoes





I came across this novel almost by accident. Not the ones that involve tripping or any other misfortune, instead I prefer to point my finger at Fate.
In what I guess are 31 pages, the author weaves _ and in this I'm afraid I'll have to resort to the same old tropes _ a heartbreaking story with roots in the historical fiction, magical realism, fairy tale retellings and horror domains.
"In America, they don’t let you burn. My mother told me that.
 When we came to America, we brought anger and socialism and hunger. We also brought our demons. They stowed away on the ships with us, curled up in the small sacks we slung over our shoulders, crept under our skirts. When we passed the medical examinations and stepped for the first time out onto the streets of granite we would call home, they were waiting for us, as though they’d been there the whole time."
Told with a crisp efficiency, the Burning Girls takes us to Nineteenth century Poland, to a land and time fraught with the potential for racial problems. 
In a place where legends of Old are still very much present in the characters lives, what follows is a rich and dark tale of superstitions and dangerous beings, that don't take kindly at being thwarted.

I had read some comments on how a certain event _ that I only heard about for the first time, in the most recent Alice Hoffman book _ , lets call it that (to avoid spoilers), was also a part of this story...
...even so, I kept waiting until the last moment for a different thing to happen. For a moment i held on to the fairy tale part, forgetting that this is mostly an horror story.

Also I can't help pointing out, how refreshing it was, to have in such a short novella, a relationship the sorts of Deborah and Ruthie.
I'm afraid that the first time Deborah says that she doesn't care about boys, I got myself prepared for some insta love idiocy, as it's normally the case. But unlike what today has become a trend, that didn't happen here, and I loved the small insights we are given into their relationship.

Poignant and unforgettable, this is much more than a family's plight from the supernatural element.
It's a realistic portrait of Jewish families who trying to escape persecution in their countries, ended up finding another different type of horror, in the countries who received them.
You can read this novella Here.

Also on the Tor's site, and according to Ellen Datlow:
A new story by Veronica, a novelette called "Among the Thorns," will be posted on Tor.com April 30th.
Suffice to say, that I'm really looking forward in reading it.


You can also get the Burning Girls free ebook  here:

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