I haven’t paid enough attention to Canadian publisher ChiZine recently. A significant oversight, as they do superb work. They focus on “Dark Genre Fiction,” both novels and collections, which they produce in exquisitely designed trade paperbacks. A fine recent example is David Demchuk’s debut The Bone Mother, the first horror novel to be nominated for one of Canada’s most prestigious literary prizes, the Scotiabank Giller Award. Publishers Weekly said “Demchuk gracefully pieces together a dark and shining mosaic of a story with unforgettable imagery and elegant, evocative prose. These stories read like beautiful and brutal nightmares, sharply disquieting, and are made all the more terrifying by the history in which they’re grounded.” Here’s the description.
Three neighboring villages on the Ukrainian/Romanian border are the final refuge for the last of the mythical creatures of Eastern Europe. Now, on the eve of the war that may eradicate their kind — and with the ruthless Night Police descending upon their sanctuary — they tell their stories and confront their destinies:
- The Rusalka, the beautiful vengeful water spirit who lives in lakes and ponds and lures men and children to their deaths;
- The Vovkulaka, who changes from her human form into that of a wolf and hides with her kind deep in the densest forests;
- The Strigoi, a revenant who feasts on blood and twists the minds of those who love, serve and shelter him;
- The Dvoynik, an apparition that impersonates its victim and draws him into a web of evil in order to free itself;
- And the Bone Mother, a skeletal crone with iron teeth who lurks in her house in the heart of the woods, and cooks and eats those who fail her vexing challenges.
Eerie and unsettling like the best fairy tales, these incisor-sharp portraits of ghosts, witches, sirens, and seers — and the mortals who live at their side and in their thrall — will chill your marrow and tear at your heart.
The Bone Mother was published by ChiZine Publications on July 18, 2017. It is 300 pages, priced at $17.99 in trade paperback and $7.99 in digital format. Our previous ChiZine coverage is here.