cover image Come Back to the Swamp

Come Back to the Swamp

Laura Morrison. Black Spot, $9.99 trade paper (108p) ISBN 978-0-9997423-4-1

Morrison (Grimbargo) packs a conservationist message into this swift and breezy novella. While doing research in Detroit’s Cleary Swamp, graduate student Bernice encounters a wild-looking and unusually strong old woman, Rebecca, who claims to feel physical pain when Bernice wields her steel hedge clippers against invasive species. The next time Bernice ventures into the swamp, Rebecca doses her with a powdery concoction, and she hallucinates a rollicking scene set in the world of her favorite space opera, Space Mantis. She awakens in a hospital to the revelation that she’s been missing for a year, and she hears a voice calling to her: “Come back to the swamp.” Bernice tries to resist the call and get on with her life, but it’s nearly impossible, and she’s soon forced to make a life-altering choice. Morrison’s smooth prose effectively captures the beauty and wildness of the swamp, and Bernice’s struggle to accept or deny her destiny rings true. Morrison certainly has something to say about the environment, but the delivery isn’t heavy-handed. The Firefly-esque scene with Captain Joe and the crew from Space Mantis is a delight, and the epilogue leaves a door open to further adventures. (Aug.)