cover image Bone Swans

Bone Swans

C.S.E. Cooney. Mythic Delirium (, $15.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-9889124-4-1

Cooney’s brilliantly executed collection of five stories is a delicious stew of science fiction, horror, and fantasy, marked by unforgettable characters who plumb the depths of pathos and triumph. In “Life on the Sun,” sacrifice and rebirth are explored in a fantastical desert where future tech and wizardry mingle, as a mystical pharaoh-like figure forces a young rebel fighter to stoically embrace her fate. Children bravely battle to survive an adult-free, post-apocalyptic Earth in “The Big Ba-Ha,” even though they know their demise—hungrily anticipated by the ghoulish creatures that now share their world—is inevitable. In the title story, a macabre fairy tale told by a wisecracking lovesick rat, the Pied Piper exacts revenge on an ogre-enthralled village that’s guilty of the grisly extermination of shape-shifting swans. Cooney’s magical prose elicits laughter even as gruesome scenes induce shudders, and her expert pacing breathlessly buoys the reader to each story’s conclusion. All of these stories could easily serve as the foundation for novels while also working beautifully at their current length. These well-crafted narratives defiantly refuse to fade from memory long after the last word has been read. (July)