cover image Our Fruiting Bodies

Our Fruiting Bodies

Nisi Shawl. Aqueduct, $19 trade paper (326p) ISBN 978-1-61976-224-4

Shawl (Everfair) creates a fantastical and sometimes unsettling tapestry with these 18 wild flights of fancy. Several of these stories call back to older tales; “Salt on the Dance Floor” and “The Tawny Bitch” have echoes of “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast,” respectively, while “She Tore” follows Wendy Darling and other familiar characters through life after Neverland. Among the standouts are “Street Worm,” “Queen of Dirt,” and “Conversion Therapy,” all about a girl named Brit who discovers that the world teems with dangerous invisible entities. Throughout the linked narratives, Brit comes quite literally into her power and helps other young Black kids like herself find their own. “Vulcanization” and “Cruel Sistah” shift the collection into horror, bringing an unsettling edge as the characters of both stories encounter ghosts that have sprung from their misdeeds. Less memorable are “Big Mama Yaga’s,” about an unusual architect, and the WWI-set “A Beautiful Stream,” which lack the dynamism of the other tales. “Just Between Us,” the mysterious and winding tale of Dolores, Little Girl, and the dead women that keep appearing in their house, ends the anthology on a strong note. Rich in diversity and imagination, this will delight any speculative fiction reader. (Nov.)