At the Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson

beesAt the Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson

Small Beer Press, Easthampton, MA 2012

From my TBR pile.  Kij Johnson has won the Theodore Sturgeon, World Fantasy and Nebula awards.  This is an odd and moving collection by one of my favorite authors and goes onto my Best of 2013 list.

It is unusual to come across a collection of stories that is  emotionally deep and, at the same time, chilling and even horrific.  I have loved Johnson’s writing since I read The Fox Woman years ago and ordered this book as soon as I heard about it.  Not keeping up with fantasy publications,  none of these were familiar to me.  I find them difficult to describe.  Most feature animals, there are aliens and most feature humans in all their strange and convoluted glory.

All moments are this moment.  Past and future jumble together: Jingu cannot say which is which.  And because everything — sorrow and anger and love and grief — is equally immediate, she finds herself strangely distanced from her own life.  It is as though she listens to a storyteller recite a tale she has heard too many times, the tale of the empress Jingu.  From The Empress Jingu Fishes, page 109.

Built with elements of folk and fairy tales, mythology and science fiction, the stories bend and twist out of those forms and enter what I consider the realm of slipstream.  Some are are made of memory and there are often stories within stories.   Johnson travels to unfamiliar places, even for fantasy.   I find myself wanting to follow her, as long as I am sure I know the way back.


Filed under 2013 Challenges, DarkFantasy, Fantasy, Once Upon A Time VII, StoryCollection

11 responses to “At the Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson

  1. Johnson is just one of a kind. Such a wonderful collection.

  2. This sounds great. I’m only just breaking into story collections but I’ll make a note.
    Lynn :D

  3. I’m so looking forward to reading this one!! Like you, I loved The Fox Woman so much!!! It’s become one of my all time favorite books and I can’t wait to finally read this one some time soon! Love this cover too.

  4. As soon as I get the time, I’m going to try this book! Kij Johnson is an author whose novels and collections, I’ve been meaning to read for years. Great post. I love that last line.

  5. he sounds quite unique ,all the best stu

  6. I’ve never even heard of this author. This book does sound quite wonderful, giving that sense of dislocation that I love in fantasy writing. Will have to look out for it!

  7. Brilliant review, Gavin. I’ve just added it to my to-buy list. You read lot of best of 2013 books for you this spring!

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