cover image Wild Spaces

Wild Spaces

S.L. Coney. Tordotcom, $16.99 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-250-86683-7

The idyllic portrait of family life presented at the start of Coney’s intimate and eerie debut novella is far too good to last, and it doesn’t. Coney introduces a happy South Carolina family—mother, father, and boy, as they are known throughout—whose numbers grow first through the addition of a dog and then the arrival of the boy’s mysterious grandfather. While the dog, Teach, named for the pirate Blackbeard (real name: Edward Teach), immediately becomes the boy’s best friend, the grandfather’s arrival throws the so-far perfect family out of alignment, as tensions mount between all members. A vivid backdrop of marshes, caves, and storm-swept beaches lends an air of the uncanny to the proceedings as the boy, on the brink of turning 12, discovers alarming, and perhaps supernatural, similarities developing between himself and his grandfather, alienating him from his parents. The result is both wrenching family drama and fantastical monster story, and though the climax feels a bit rushed, the exploration of blood ties and the nature of monstrosity resonate. Coney is a writer to watch. (Aug.)