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Book Review: Jackalope Wives and Other Stories by T. Kingfisher

Friday, November 24, 2017 - 07:00

Somehow I failed to review this when I finished it, quite possibly because that happened in the chaos leading up to my summer travel.

Jackalope Wives is a collection of short pieces by Ursula Vernon under her writing-for-adults name of T. Kingfisher. I say “short pieces” rather than short fiction because it also includes poetry and things that don’t really fit neatly into categories (like the totally hilarious and biting “This Vote is Legally Binding” which is basically a letter to the editor talking back to an article on how to try to pick up women who are wearing headphones in public). But for me the heart and spine of the collection are the stories that I think of as falling in the “Kingfisher mythos” -- a quintessentially American mythic otherworld peopled with jackalopes and sentient feral railroads and magical wild hogs and very very many snarky grumbling wise old women who sigh and glare and then go off to save the world. Stories like the titular “Jackalope Wives” in which male bullheaded entitlement causes a tragedy that must be redeemed, and “Razorback” (a reworking of an old folk tale) where a witch looks for justice for the death of her best friend, and “Bird Bones” which involves an avian intervention in neighborhood hostilities. And, of course, the fiercely delightful “The Tomato Thief” (which won a Hugo this year) in which the protagonist of “Jackalope Wives” returns to figure out just who is robbing her garden and encounters yet another injustice demanding her wise and cranky attention.

I’ve been spacing out my reading of Kingfisher’s short fiction a bit because it hits so solidly in my sweet spot that I’m not sure I could bear to run out of new stories to read. I’m not sure I can be coherent it saying how much I love her writing. Just give it a try; maybe you’ll feel that way too.

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