cover image The Tree Spirit and Other Strange Tales

The Tree Spirit and Other Strange Tales

Michael Eisele. Tartarus, $50 (304p) ISBN 978-1-912586-02-8

The homely characters and olden-time settings of most of the 15 fantasy stories in Eisele’s beguiling second collection (after The Girl with the Peacock Harp) give them the feel of fairy and folk tales. In the title story, a woodcarver, newly introduced to the craft of shipbuilding, fashions a canoe from a fallen tree to flee with the wood nymph who inhabits it from the primitive matriarchal society in which they are confined. “Leshi” concerns a noble family fallen on hard times whose members risk offending the spirit of nature that imbues their lands when they consider selling the land for commercial use. In “The Wife,” a young woman married into the wealthy Lokesby family schemes a way to subvert the curse that has killed all Lokesby wives after the births of their first children. A few selections sneak in references to other, more modern tales of the fantastic, as with the nod to the dark fantasies of H.P. Lovecraft and Manly Wade Wellman in “Brown Jenkins.” This volume will appeal to fans of traditional fantastic storytelling and the works of dark and light fiction it has inspired. [em](July) [/em]

Correction: An earlier version of this review incorrectly stated this book was the author's first story collection.