Mortal Clay, Stone Heart: And Other Stories in Shades of Black and White

By Eugie Foster

Rating: 4 stars

Like the last collection of Foster’s stories I read (Returning My Sister’s Face and Other Far Eastern Tales of Whimsy and Malice), I really rather enjoyed this one. I first encountered Foster in audio form through the Escape Artists podcasts (probably Podcastle). It wasn’t until her sad death last year that I picked up some of her work in written form, and I’m glad that I did as it seems to work better (for me, at least) on paper than in audio.

There are some lovely stories here and mostly they’re more whimsical than the previous collection, although that doesn’t necessarily stop them from packing a punch, as The Life and Times of Penguin attest. As for the others, knowing what I do about Foster’s own life and death, Running on Two Legs was heartbreaking, while Black Swan, White Swan just bemused me a bit (although I do think I liked it more than when I heard it in audio). The Bunny of Vengeance and the Bear of Death was in equal parts hilarious, horrific and heartbreaking. That’s a combo that Foster is pretty good at, as the cutesy frame reveals a centre with depth and heart. A Nose for Magic is lighter and more fun (and I always love a story where the IT guy saves the day and wins the girl). The Center of the Universe is a story about growing up, moving on and the passage of time. It’s sweet and melancholic at the same time, as such stories often are. The Wizard of Eternal Watch seems like a segment in a large story and I’d love to read that larger story as this really whetted my appetite. Finally, the title story, Mortal Clay, Stone Heart was a story of love found and love lost. Beautifully told, melancholic (there’s that word again) and haunting.

So a great collection of stories. There’s not much more of Foster’s writing left, but I’ll definitely pick up The King of Rabbits and Moon Lake: And Other Tales of Magic and Mischief (although probably not A Vampire Quintet as I’m not a huge fan of vampires). I’d love for someone to collect the novellas and other stories into a final collection though, ideally one that I can get on paper.

Book details

ISBN: 9781492836995
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Year of publication: 2011

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