cover image The Cuckoo Girls

The Cuckoo Girls

Patricia Lillie. Trepidatio, $15.95 trade paper (182p) ISBN 978-1-950305-24-7

The 16 short, female-centric tales in this brief but haunting collection from Lillie (The Ceiling Man) offer dark, evocative glimpses into a series of otherworldly experiences. In the deeply disconcerting title story, two sisters both mysteriously become pregnant after being followed by a well-meaning, pregnant stripper at the laundromat. The deliciously dark “The Robber Bridegroom,” based on the Brothers Grimm tale of the same name, tells of a young country girl named Nessa whose love for a demon only grows after he becomes betrothed to her sister. Other retellings include “Alyce-with-a-Y,” which draws from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and “Mother Sylvia,” which recasts Hansel and Gretel as the villains of the story as they slowly steal the life force from a witch whose house they invade. By pulling from both mundane and supernatural fears, Lillie makes the unreal feel all too possible. The gentle lyricism of Lillie’s writing belies the unease lurking just beneath the surface. This grim, witchy collection will grab anyone looking for a subtle fright. (May)