cover image Like Smoke, Like Light

Like Smoke, Like Light

Yukimi Ogawa. Mythic Delirium, $17.95 trade paper (260p) ISBN 978-1-956522-00-6

Ogawa’s debut collection of 17 speculative shorts stuns with its delicacy. In the eponymous story, a woman is punished for her attempt to cut ties with her powerful family, sentenced to work for a man who refuses to do the same, clinging to the ghosts of his relatives. “The Colorless Thief” introduces a sideshow performer whose act is allowing patrons to hit her and witness the brilliant beauty of the bruises. A 14-year-old who bleeds out a narcotic, opalescent substance in “Taste of Opal” is sold to a protective crew of merchants who she believes only keep her safe so as not to sully the value of her blood. “Blue Gray Blue” follows an eyewear salesman on a tourist island whose own ultramarine eyes occasionally dull to a stormy gray. It’s a fact that embarrasses him until a woman who calls herself a “collector of blues” helps him see the beauty he possesses. There’s a gorgeous fluidity to these tales that makes them hard to pin down, as they often end somewhere very different from where they began. Harkening back to the oldest folk and fairy tales and raising pointed questions about how humans value and devalue each other, this is a showstopper. (June)