Metafictional fantasy triptychs.
Cloud & Ashes: Three Winter’s Tales
. Small Beer
, $26 (448p) ISBN 978-1-931520-55-3
Almost two decades after the publication of her debut novel, Moonwise
, Gilman returns to the fantasy realm of Cloud with a trilogy of interconnected narratives. 2000’s Nebula-shortlisted “Jack Daw’s Pack” follows an otherworldly traveler as he creates a rich tapestry of myth in the cards he throws down. 2003’s “A Crowd of Bone,” which won the World Fantasy Award, is a decidedly nonlinear tragedy about child witch Thea, who flees her goddess mother and a foolish love-struck mortal. The novella “Unleaving,” the original piece of the trinity, revolves around Thea’s daughter, Margaret, who “unravels” the heavens and, in turn, much of the mythos of Cloud. Though the sublimely lyrical Jacobeanesque dialect is challenging, readers who enjoy symbolism and allusion will cherish Gilman’s use of diverse folkloric elements to create an unforgettable realm and ideology. (May)