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- Throwback Thursday: Which Witch by Wendy Purcell
Editor’s note: The use of folk magic in this poem, along with its economy of words, paints a truly magical picture for the reader. And we love the twist at the end! You can keep witches from your door With two dead cats Underneath your floor. To guard against witches’ evil looks Press four leaf clovers In a heavy book. A better way to keep out ill Is a jar of broken pins On the windowsill. Both mistletoe and the rowan’s wood Will keep out the bad And in the good. Add horseshoes nailed to the front porch posts To give fair warning To the devil’s hosts. Then cross your fingers behind your back Throw salt past your shoulder Don’t step on a crack. Because you see it’s all their doing The still born calf The failed seed sowing. Behind the guise of midwife and nurse A witch works her evil And plants her curse. If you work these charms free of fear or doubt God will dwell within And the witch without. Don’t dwell upon that disquieting glitch That if your spells work Then you’re the witch. Wendy Purcell was a nurse, now she writes. Her short stories and poems have appeared in [Untitled], Braindrip, Unusual Works, Every Day Fiction, Vautrin and The Haibun Journal. She lives near Melbourne, Australia and is often in her garden that is both too big and yet never big enough. Image: Pixabay
- Review by Kelly Jarvis: The Witch is Back by Sophie H. Morgan
The Witch is Back, by Sophie H. Morgan, is a fun, escapist story about young witches in love. Emmaline Bluewater, a low-ranking witch with plant magic, left the witch community of New Orleans after being abandoned by her fiancé, Bastian Truenote, a charming warlock from a prominent family who possess the powers of mind magic. Embarrassed and ridiculed for being left at the altar, Emma moves to Chicago and opens a bar for humans which is aptly named Toil and Trouble. When Bastian returns after several years and tells Emma he needs her to marry him to prevent a negative consequence of their broken engagement contract, the couple is thrust back into a relationship and must navigate the magical circumstances that have kept them apart. This book is a steamy romance novel set in a magical world, but the story is truly about two people who have grown and changed since their early adulthood and must learn to fall in love with one another again. Obstacles to their emerging love abound, and scenes that explore difficult family conflicts are set against scenes that fully describe the budding sexual relationship between Emma and Bastion. The plot unfolds in a world where witches communicate through mirrors, travel the globe by opening portals, and add telekinetic fingers to their sexual encounters, so an air of magic permeates the real-world settings and concerns in the book. This book is not high fantasy or high literature, but readers looking for a spicy tale of love that takes place in a contemporary world populated by witches will enjoy the romantic escape. The story provides plenty of secrets for readers to uncover, and the novel ultimately underscores the importance of both choice and love in securing a happily ever after. This was a fun romcom read! You can learn more about the book here. Thank you to NetGalley for a free copy of the book in exchange for a fair review. Kelly Jarvis is the Special Projects Writer and Contributing Editor for The Fairy Tale Magazine. Her work has appeared in Eternal Haunted Summer, Blue Heron Review, Forget-Me-Not Press, Mermaids Monthly, The Chamber Magazine, and Mothers of Enchantment: New Tales of Fairy Godmothers. She teaches at Central Connecticut State University.
- Celebrating Fall! Quotes Art & Folklore by Amanda Bergloff
WELCOME FALL! "It's the first day of autumn! A time of hot chocolatey mornings, and toasty marshmallow evenings, and, best of all, leaping into leaves!" ~ A. A. Milne Fall is a magical time of year when the wild beauty of nature takes one last colorful breath before winter sets in. We look forward to the vibrant leaves falling around us on a windy day, the earlier sunsets when we can cozy up around a firepit outdoors with friends, wearing comfy sweaters again, buying just the right pumpkin for the front porch, picking out books from a used bookstore on a crisp Saturday morning, and so many more things that inspire and revive our spirit at this time of year. To inspire you too, we've collected some of our favorite things about fall...so please enjoy the quotes, art and folklore below that highlight this beautiful season! ~The Months of Autumn~ SEPTEMBER There are flowers enough in the summertime, More flowers than I can remember- But none with the purple, gold, and red That dye the flowers of September! ~ Mary Howitt OCTOBER October glows on every cheek, October shines in every eye, While up the hill and dawn the dale Her crimson banners fly. ~ Elaine Goodale Eastman NOVEMBER November comes And November goes, With the last red berries And the first white snows. With night coming early, And dawn coming late, And ice in the bucket And frost by the gate. The fires burn And the kettles sing, And earth seeks to rest Until the next spring. ~ Clyde Watson "Smoke hangs like haze over harvested fields, The gold of stubble, the brown of turned earth And you walk under the red light of fall The scent of fallen apples, the dust of threshed grain The sharp, gentle chill of fall. Here as we move into the shadows of autumn The night that brings the morning of spring Come to us, Lord of Harvest Teach us to be thankful for the gifts you bring us ..." ~ Autumn Equinox Ritual FALL FOLKLORE Married in September’s golden glow, smooth and serene your life will go. If the storms of September clear off warm, the storms of the following winter will be warm. Much rain in October, much wind in December. If trees show buds in November, the winter will last until May. There is no better month in the year to cut wood than November. According to an old superstition, if you catch a red or gold leaf falling from a tree during autumn, you'll be free of colds for the next year. Another variation on this superstition is that for every leaf you catch, you will have a lucky month the following year. And, once you have caught your leaf, keep it safely throughout the winter, until new green buds appear on the trees in the spring. Scarecrows can protect fall crops, but they must be given hats to keep them cool in the sun, and once they're given clothes, a human can never wear those clothes again as it will bring them bad luck. Click the video below for an easy DIY fall luminary project to light those autumn evenings. How silently they tumble down And come to rest upon the ground To lay a carpet, rich and rare, Beneath the trees without a care, Content to sleep, their work well done, Colors gleaming in the sun. At other times, they wildly fly Until they nearly reach the sky. Twisting, turning through the air Till all the trees stand stark and bare. Exhausted, drop to earth below To wait, like children, for the snow. ~ Elsie N. Brady Dancing of the autumn leaves on a surface of a lake is a dream we see when we are awake. ~ Mehmet Murat Ildan SONG FOR AUTUMN Don't you imagine the leaves dream now how comfortable it would be to touch the earth instead of the nothingness of the air and the endless freshets of wind? And don't you think the trees especially those with mossy hollows, are beginning to look for the birds that will come - six, a dozen - to sleep inside their bodies? And don't you hear the goldenrod whispering goodbye, the everlasting being crowned with the first tuffets of snow? The pond stiffens and the white field over which the fox runs so quickly brings out its long blue shadows. The wind wags its many tails. And in the evening, the piled firewood shifts a little, longing to be on its way. ~ Mary Oliver PUMPKIN PIE SQUARES Click on the video below for a super easy fall pumpkin dessert! “If a year was tucked inside of a clock, then autumn would be the magic hour." ~ Victoria Erickson "No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face." ~ John Donne The Full Moons of AUTUMN The Harvest Moon September 29, 2023 This is the full moon closest to the autumn equinox. It rises within a half-hour of when the sun sets, and when farmers had no tractors, it was essential that they work by the light of this full moon to bring in the harvest. ------ The Hunter's Moon October 28, 2023 The Hunter's Moon was given its name because it was at this time that tribes gathered meat for the long winter ahead. ------ The Beaver Moon November 27, 2023 The full moon for November is named the Beaver Moon because this is the time that beavers become particularly active building their winter dams in preparation for the cold season. Since the beaver is mainly nocturnal, they can be seen working under the light of this full moon. AUTUMN ART GALLERY At the First Touch of Winter Summer Fades Away, Valentine Cameron Prinsep, 1897 Girl on a Swing, Maxfield Parrish, 1905 Woman with Autumn Leaves, Andrew Stovovich, 1994 Autumn, Simeon Solomon, 19th Century Autumn, Levitan Sokolniki, 1879 Autumn, Alphonse Mucha, 1896 Autumn Angel, I. R. Outhwaite, 1916 The Bower Meadow, Dante Gabriel Rosetti, 1872 Wishing everyone a magical fall! Share what you love about this season in the comments section below The Fairy Tale Magazine's contributing editor, Amanda Bergloff, writes modern fairy tales, folktales, and speculative fiction. Her work has appeared in various anthologies, including Frozen Fairy Tales, After the Happily Ever After, and Uncommon Pet Tales. Follow her on Twitter @AMANDABERGLOFF
- Throwback Thursday: Seasonal Spells for the Elm Queen by Alicia Hilton
Editor’s note: THE HOLLY AND OAK KINGS are probably still locked in battle, as we roll toward the end of the Summer Solstice, but Alicia’s gorgeous poem about all four seasons will keep us in the magical mood! Winter Requiem fairy folk gather beside a fresh grave snowflakes and tears glisten on their faces winged tribe grieves for the Elm King Spring Equinox a hillside covered in bluebells crocus freesia fragrant blossoms assuage the Elm Queen’s grief Sultry Beltane fairies build a bonfire the Elm Queen’s mage tosses herbs on the blaze smoke smells like magic and hope they sing ballads celebrate spring Summer Solstice fairy folk link hands encircle a sacred elm chant courtship spells songbirds echo their incantations Autumn Equinox fairy folk gather under a canopy of elm leaves amidst a storm they paint symbols on sacred tree rising gale shrieks a face appears in the clouds Lightning Strike severs the tree trunk inside the elm a fairy awakens new Elm King greets his bride. Alicia Hilton is an author, law professor, arbitrator, actor, and former FBI Special Agent. She believes in angels and demons, magic and monsters. Alicia’s recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best Indie Speculative Fiction Volume 3, Daily Science Fiction, Demain Publishing UK, Departure Mirror, DreamForge, Enchanted Conversation, Litro, Neon, Sci Phi Journal, Space and Time, Vastarien, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volumes 4, 5 & 6, and elsewhere. Image by Elisabeth Sonrel
- Book Review by Lissa Sloan: After the Forest by Kell Woods
Greta and Hans survived. They escaped the witch and made it home to their father in a happy ending to a horrific tale. Fifteen years later, the siblings still share the family home, and Greta makes a living baking her incredible gingerbread to sell in their Black Forest village of Lindenfeld. But Hans has not coped as well as his sister. He is spinning out of control with a dangerous gambling habit that has put their mountain home in jeopardy. A group of mercenary soldiers appears in the village, and the new baroness doubles the taxes, allowing the poor to pay a “Blood Tithe” with their labor in lieu of money. Though she doesn’t dare reveal the secret behind her addictive gingerbread--the witch’s book of magic--for fear of reawakening the villagers’ suspicions about her, Greta must find a way to protect her home and those she loves before it’s too late. Though After the Forest is a continuation of “Hansel and Gretel,” returning to the siblings as adults, Kell Woods’ debut novel is so much more. She expertly mixes other classic fairy tales into a 17th century European post-war setting complete with witch trials and a sadistic noblewoman. Binding these elements is the emotional throughline of adults healing from childhood trauma, inviting the reader to examine “Hansel and Gretel” through a very different lens. The result is an enchanting (sometimes tear-jerking) concoction spiced with shapeshifting wolves, a cursed bear, green witches, and gorgeous fairy tale symbolism, and I devoured every word. If you’re looking for a wondrous and terrifying fairy tale, Kell Woods has the secret ingredient. Magic, love, loss, and adventure; After the Forest has it all. You can pre-order a copy HERE. Lissa Sloan is the author of Glass and Feathers, a novel that tells the story of Cinderella after the “happily ever after.” The Enchanted Press will publish it next February.
- Cover Reveal: Glass and Feathers by Lissa Sloan
Dear FTM Readers, As we shift from the serial version and prepare for next year’s print and ebook release, Kate and I are so delighted to share the new cover design of Glass and Feathers! This is one of so many firsts for us in the publishing of The Enchanted Press’s first book, and one of the most exciting. The design team at eBook Launch worked with us to create an image that captures the dark and magical feel of my Cinderella continuation that asks, “What happens after Happy Ever After?” We love the period font and glass slipper design, the somber yet sparkling color palate that feels so very fairy tale, the vines that offer a whispered hint at a pumpkin shape, and of course, the sparrow at the top. Glass and Feathers will be available in ebook and print in March of 2024, and we couldn’t have done it without you. Here’s to the next step of the journey. Thank you for walking this path with us!
- FTM's Poetry Contest Winners
FTM is pleased to present the winners of our Poetry Fundraising Contest below. Enjoy! POETRY GRAND PRIZE WINNER AND VERY LITTLE STONE by Margaret Fisher Squires They built the palace together. They used dreams and glass and very little stone. She did not notice the lack, distracted as she was by the motes of glamour that sparked the air around her prince. Perhaps she is not to be blamed. Perhaps he is not to be blamed either. The Fair Folk cannot help what they are. The Elf Lord quite enjoyed the playful labor. The woman’s flights of fancy matched his own as few other mortals’ had. Her dreams served for timbering and floors, fine-grained and richly hued like mahogany or teak. The pair were dazzled by their reflections in the ballroom’s mirrors. “We’ll give a ball!” he declared. She answered him, “Yes!” and he conjured fragile chairs of gilded wood, rich brocade draperies, candles of fragrant beeswax. The dainty cakes were real, with currants in them. He stole them by magic from the bakery in the nearest town. It did not seem to matter that the palace had no kitchen. Candle flames lit the ballroom and burned again in gilded mirrors, in guests’ jewels, and in his mortal lover’s eyes. Dancing with her was a joy at first. The time came when her every kiss, her every hand-brush felt like the peck of a small, hungry bird. Her eyes, bright with hope drained him. Besides, the party seemed to last almost a whole night or almost a whole year. (Despite long interludes with mortals, he still tended to confuse the two.) He knew, or believed in his fine ivory bones, that if he stayed a whole night or a whole year in one place, time would enspell him, stiffen his flesh until he was trapped in panicked immobility, an Elf Lord shaped entirely of something like mahogany or teak. Her chatter carved a numb hollow in his chest, He felt approaching dawn. He left her while the dance swirled all around them, slipping away through one of the tall glass doors into the darkness. He left her dancing with his reflection. Outside, he paused, and glanced back through the glass at the bright-eyed comely woman circling alone in her graceful dance. He heard a distant fiddle swinging into melody over the hill. He felt the music fill his chest with fire. His heels barely touched the earth as he crossed the hill but he remembered the woman for almost as many years or hours as it took for the palace’s timbers to collapse into dust. Margaret Fisher Squire’s poems have appeared in brass bell: a haiku journal, The Ryder Magazine, and the Five Women Poets’ chapbook, Birds of a Feather. Some can be heard in the archives of WFIU’s program “The Poets Weave” https://indianapublicmedia.org/poetsweave/ . Image: Amanda Bergloff POETRY RUNNER UP TO SURVIVE A FAIRY TALE by Deborah Sage Wear a cloak fashioned of a thousand furs Or a mask of illusion edged with Owl feathers and innocence. Always Erase your traces. Cast no shadow in moonlight. Sleepwalk Barefoot, across frosted fields, clad In gossamer and thistle-down. Tell no one your true name. Ask for no red roses. Choose camelias instead. Never unlock forbidden doors even If given the keys. Chain your heart with iron or A lover’s infidelity. Three bands of either are enough. Conceal your radiance. Cast a glamour To avoid the gaze of your mother, or In extreme cases, your father. Obscure your scent with Dragon’s Blood And Moroccan mint, best obtained from A disreputable source. Wear a gown of ashes, or choose One of ruby silk to blend with spilled drops of cabernet And bloodstains. Carry a carving knife for pumpkins, And wolves. Do not lose your slipper. Sleep in a canopied bed carved From the point of a spindle carved by A fairy’s curse. Braid your hair with Briars or threads of time. Wear a brooch of silver and shoes of iron. Trade your wishes for golden coins. Trade your voice to the sea For your heart’s desire and a crystal choker, Always expect the worst. Do not dance in Faerie forests, but if you must, Leave a trail of vanishing diamonds, Or starlight. Waltz all night But do not tango. Take care you are not followed. Do not answer those who would call your name, Willing you to let down your guard alongside Your hair. Flee before the clock strikes Midnight. Remember the power of passivity; Stay in the tower. Break the queen’s mirror. Risk the Seven year’s bad luck. Do not comb your raven locks with A poisoned comb. Leave the tangles. Never eat apples from a chest Nor a house of cakes and sweets. Despite your cravings, Do not steal from A witch’s garden. Starve instead. When pursued, seek shelter in deep forests. Hide between the roots of a rowan tree, In a thatched cottage, Or beneath a leaf. Be on good terms with dwarves and witches. Always dress for flight, Or enchantment. Speak in a foreign tongue but remember Always to whisper, Tint your skin blue; wear sapphires. Reveal your thoughts only on The promise of anonymity. Be certain Your confidence will not be kept. Stay on the path, drink no wine Nor eat food proffered with a price Greater than gratitude. Do not engage in careless thievery. Avoid spinning either Straw into gold or Men into princes. Deborah W. Sage is a native of Kentucky, USA. She has most recently been published in Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine, Eternal Haunted Summer, Literary LEO, Fairy Tale Magazine, From the Farther Trees, the 2022 Dwarf Stars Anthology and Amethyst Press All Shall Be Well anthology for Julian of Norwich. Image: Arthur Rackham POETRY RUNNER UP TRIPLE GODDESS PRAYER by Cecilia Betsill Come child, and drink from the Cauldron of Cerridwen. And when you rise Take the storm winds with you. Come child and drink. Suck on the breast of the Siren and let the manna drown you. Sinking, staining water pink. Come child, and lay your head on the lap of the Great Morrigan. Raven wings wide and Counting the dead. (Gaze across that battlefield, littered and crisscrossed with corpses of bastards ready to pay) Come child, and jump on the back of the Valkyries. And when you soar sing the Rune song of Mother & Crone. Come child and stand at the Crossroads of Hecate. Peer into the fates and the future and Tell your coven what you see. Ah, you maiden, you girl child, let your rage flow. Rage for the ones before you who burned and who hung. Be reborn in the castrated foam of your father. Oysters and mollusks widen their maws to spill pearls at your feet. You goddess, you storyteller - Child, you are eternal. You are me, and her, and she, Mother, Maiden, Crone, our Fury makes us one. Cecilia Betsill is an NYC-based Swede writing LGBTQ+ fantasy and witchy poetry. She is currently working on publishing her debut novel entitled Siren's Song. You can find Cecilia helping run a literary open mic in Brooklyn and occasionally illustrating the accompanying monthly zine. Image: Alphonse Osbert All three poems are included in our September issue, TALES FROM THE NIGHT QUEEN'S REALM ...packed with original fairy tale stories, poems, art, articles, and an interview with author, Alice Hoffman! FEATURING WORKS BY Ella Arrow - Amanda Bergloff - Cecilia Betsill - Tish Black Sarah Cannavo - Jayne Cohen - Sara Cleto - A.J. Cunder Sofia Ezdina - Alyson Faye - Hannah Grace Greer Kelly Jarvis - Rosanne E. Lortz - Leila Murton Poole Deborah Sage - Marcia Sherman - Margaret Fisher Squires Laren Stover - Brittany Warman You can find TALES FROM THE NIGHT QUEEN'S REALM single issue HERE and check out other past issues HERE
- Throwback Thursday: The Hedge Witch by Lauren A. Mills
Editor’s note: It’s not often we get a submission that includes the work of a professional artist and writer like Lauren Mills. That’s right. The adorable image, “Berry Harvest,” that goes with this delightful and unexpected poem is also by Lauren. You’re going to love this! A fever led the witch to bed, Too weak to find a cure. Her ragged breath, her aching head, No more could she endure. A healer she had been to all Who dared to seek the crone; But none would heed a witch’s call She’d face her end alone. At dusk she spied a little light Float by her garden wall. She fancied that a fairy might Be tucked inside, quite small. She rose and stumbled out her door To see what might be there, Then crawled across the leafy floor With no one there to care. Then, one by one, she watched them come From out of mist and dew. Her heart like rapid wings did hum To glimpse them as they flew. Their hair like tufts of milkweed down Was lifted by the breeze. Each gossamer and silky gown As sheer as wings of bees. They sang and played a lively reel. Those dainty feet did dance Upon the tufted chamomile, A golden-fairy prance. With fragrance as a sweet caress Into a dream serene, Her eyes half closed in drowsy bliss; She saw the strangest scene. A tiny, wounded mouse was laid Across the blossomed-bed. A mossy pillow, fairy-made, Was set beneath his head. One wrapped him in a petal shawl. One kissed his tiny cheek. With thorn removed, he stood up tall, And thanked them with a squeak. The next to come was old brown toad. They set his broken toe. His gratitude he shyly showed By croaking rather low. At last there came a chickadee, Her feathers not quite right. The fairies worked so carefully To sew them back, snug tight. And just when she began to think Of taking slumber there The fairies turned and with a wink Wove flowers in her hair. What happened next, she could not say; The tunes began to fade. By dawn’s first light they flew away. She hobbled from the glade. When she awoke upon her bed, The dew upon the lawn, With fragrant herbs around her head- Her fever? It was gone! Lauren A. Mills has been a visiting art professor at the University of Hartford in Connecticut and Hollins University in Virginia. She is the author and illustrator of several books for children including, THE RAG COAT, THE DOG PRINCE, TATTERHOOD AND THE HOBGOBLINS, and FAIRY WINGS which she co-illustrated with her husband, Dennis Nolan, and which won the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) Golden Kite Award. She and her husband have a grown daughter. They live with their Italian Greyhound, Ollie, in Western Massachusetts at their homestead called Faun Hollow. Lauren, a self-proclaimed Hedge Witch, grows herbs that go into her Faerie Botanica of healing teas and body care products that she makes for her family and friends.
- Review by Kelly Jarvis: The Shadow Sister
The Shadow Sister is a gripping Young Adult mystery debut from author Lily Meade. It tells the story of two sisters, Casey and Sutton, who struggle to get along with one another in their teen years. When Sutton is the third black girl in the area to go missing, Casey, who continues to harbor deep resentments for her sister, must put on a loving act so the press and police will focus attention on finding a black girl. When Sutton returns home with no memory of what she endured, her new relationship with Casey will unsettle everything Casey has believed about her life and her family’s past. The story is told through Casey’s first-person point of view, which allows for heart-breaking confessions about the complex nature of sisterhood. Sutton’s point of view punctuates Casey’s narrative in chapters which bring the reader back to the day she goes missing and to several days years before. Both girls struggle to understand their mixed heritage and take comfort in the love from their recently deceased grandmother, Remy, who left them a silver bracelet with a unique charm. Their father’s work includes personal and historical research into Hoodoo practices and herbal slave medicines that inform the modern spiritual practices of African Americans. This information greatly impacts the twist at the end of the story as the magic of family and sisterhood overcomes the ugliness and dangers of the world. Although the end of the book was a twist that may confuse some readers, Meade justifies her ending by explaining that she wanted to reclaim the narrative of victimhood that haunts black characters in American fiction. The Shadow Sister effectively combines authentic young adult voices with important historical and spiritual information to address the effects of intergenerational trauma and the potential for healing. The prose moves quickly, and the plot is engaging. This book will hold the interest of the adolescent reader while proving an adult audience with a deep look at how structural inequity impacts contemporary teenage life. This is a book I would consider using in my Young Adult Literature class because of its tight blend of personal confession, social commentary, and spiritual critique. You can find the book here. Thank you to NetGalley for a free copy of the book in exchange for a fair review. Kelly Jarvis is the Special Projects Writer and Contributing Editor for The Fairy Tale Magazine. Her work has appeared in Eternal Haunted Summer, Blue Heron Review, Forget-Me-Not Press, Mermaids Monthly, The Chamber Magazine, and Mothers of Enchantment: New Tales of Fairy Godmothers. She teaches at Central Connecticut State University.
- Cinderella's Hearth
THIS WEEK - The Auberge of the Flowering Hearth There is a book, an old one, and it transports you back in time to a place that no longer exists. A place of beauty and natural grandeur and feasts fit for any fairy tale prince and princess. It’s called The Auberge of the Flowering Hearth, and I just finished it for the third or fourth time. It’s not a fairy tale or a fantasy novel, but the time and place feels just as remote and magical. Roy Andreis de Groot discovered this little inn or “auberge” in a valley in the Chartreuse Mountains in the French Alps. But don’t look for it. The Auberge of the Flowering Hearth (“L’Auberge de l’Atre Fleuri”) no longer exists. Neither does some of what makes the Chartreuse area so special. Like everywhere else the winters are warmer these days, and the snow the region needs to have an abundance of foraging food and winter sports has dropped substantially since this book was published 50 years ago. (There is no 50th anniversary edition as far as I can tell.) Andries de Groot writes with an elegiac tone about the inn and the area. He knew, even when he first visited, that the unpretentious, simple way of life that typified the valley was dying. So I read the descriptions of nature and food with a sense that I’m visiting Brigadoon. The modest auberge was run by Ray and Vivette, the two women who produce magical food and an equally compelling alcohol menu. They were not trained professionals, but both came from family traditions that were powerfully immersed in food. The food and drink they turned out ranged from simple to magnificent, and they used local ingredients abundantly. The feasts include cheeses and fresh fruits, parts of the animals we often don’t eat in the US (that were usually freshly killed mere hours before being cooked). There’s enough booze to pickle almost anyone’s liver. The author also writes about the history, weather, flora, and fauna of the region in the first third of the book. That he does it so beautifully is remarkable, because he was already blind when he wrote it. You’ll get a ton of menu descriptions, even in that portion, and the remaining two thirds consists of recipes. I don’t read the recipes to cook. I read them for inspiration and to remind myself to eat locally-raised food whenever possible. The Auberge of the Flowering Hearth unleashed the worst sort of demanding behavior in tourists, so please read both the preface and the foreword, as they help you understand this book. Despite the awful tourist behavior, there is a lovely upside to the book: generations of famous American chefs credit it with inspiring them to cook. Read this book. You’ll thank me. Oh, and you’ll also realize where the color chartreuse comes from. Hint: It’s booze-related. You can find The Auberge of the Flowering Hearth here. Until next week, Stay enchanted! Kate
- FTM Flash Fiction Contest Winners
FTM is pleased to present the winners of our first Flash Fiction Fundraising Contest below. Enjoy! FLASH FICTION GRAND PRIZE WINNER "MEDICINE or POISON" by Ella Arrow The wise woman knows when she's called a witch. They called my mother “a cunning woman,” gladly buying her elixirs and simples on market day. But the village has changed since I took her place. Now more whisperers than customers pass my cart. A woman who lives alone has become a specimen strange and not always good. Simple people see what they want, the best or worst they can imagine. Salt is essential to the life of a man but kills the poor slug that eats the same cabbages. Poison or medicine. Witch or wisdom. Perhaps apple tarts with elderberry and feverfew will sell as a remedy for the chills. Slip medicine in with the mead. I lean deep into my bread oven and ash catches in the back of my throat, clings like a bat to the sore folds there. I hold my breath until the tarts are out and I can finally cough. The windowsill is already brimming with market day pastries, but as I set down the tarts, I noticed a gap in my pile of scones. "Nibble, nibble, little mouse. Who's been nibbling at my house?" "Never mind. It is the wind." I'm so shocked at the tiny voice that answers, I have to gather my wits along with my shawl over my head before rushing out the door. Two children stand outside my window, mouths agape, cheeks hollow, twigs in their hair. I'm not used to visitors, much less youngsters. The best thing about living alone in the woods is solitude. It’s also the worst thing. The little girl steps back as if I were the one who frightened her. The boy's fist clutches a green sponge. Are they so starved they would eat gutter growth? "What is that? Don't eat that!" My throat is dry; I creak like a crow. "You must be a witch," he whispers, "to have such a magical house." Medicine or poison, witch or wisdom. "Come inside," I say. "Eat and rest, whatever sweets you want." They sidle past me, too exhausted to argue, eyes wide and glassy. They fall on my food like wild things. I imagine them biting my fingers as I deliver extra pumpkin muffins. I’ve only one bed but I tuck them in, mother's quilt up to their chins. They seem nervous, thin arms around each other. Unsure how to talk to children, to help them feel safe, I stroke the girl's cheek and say, "Such sweet faces. I could eat you up." In the dark of night, a crash awakens me from my chair. The boy’s out of bed and has stumbled over the garden tools. He wrestles a rake, raining down crumbles of fragrant sage and henbane from their perch in the rafters. I cry out and grab him. He raves and shouts, slapping me. His eyes are still unfocused, seeing nightmares or gingerbread houses. I wrap him in a bear hug and drag him toward the back of the house where the chicken coop opens by a little grate. “Wolves will devour us!” he shouts. “In the woods, wolves and witches will devour us.” He looks straight through me, naming me as wicked. I shove him in with the chickens and slam the grate shut. Call and scream as he might, I do not let him out. I search my books for what fruit of the forest could give them visions of sugar plums and baby-boiling witches. Finally, near dawn, I find the concoction. Purge and purify, thyme and burdock. Then restore: red clover, prunella, lady’s mantle. I know the girl heard the ruckus last night. She only comes out for porridge, hunger overwhelming fear. I get her to tell me through tears how they heard their stepmother’s plan to abandon them in the woods. No wonder they’re mistrustful. On the second day starving, they ate white berries that looked like dolls’ eyes. They stumbled onto my little house, mistaking sweet smells and a window bakery for a candy cottage conjured from a starving child’s dreams. They purge. I clean. If this is what having children entails, I'm glad my mothering is temporary. My magic can heal the body and salve the spirit, but it doesn’t mend their tiny broken hearts. Market day comes and goes. They've eaten my stores anyway. I try to think what to do with them; they clearly cannot go home. I try to put meat back on their bones, but my throat has gotten worse, my eyes are red and runny. I don’t speak much, but when I do, my temper is as brittle as a dried stalk. The girl weeps on the little pallet I've made for her bed. The boy screams whenever I come near. I fear for my safety if I let him out. It doesn't matter that the visions have passed, the toxins purged. The poison ideas have left a scar. I've decided I'll take them to the village. Someone there will help, take them in, someone who isn’t me. I haven’t told them, because I plan to give them a sleeping tea and put them on the cart. That way is safest, so they don’t run away and get lost in the woods again. While I still have the extra hands, I ask the girl to help me clean my oven. I show her the brush and how to lean far in. I promise her a cookie if she helps me, but she knows I've got a secret. These children have no trust left to give. She pushes me with tiny might and mountainous fury. My head thumps the oven and I roll behind the door, moaning, out of sight. She opens her brother's cage and cries, “We're free! The old witch is dead!” “I’m not old,” I mumble, holding my head. “I’m 37.” Knowledge is a knife that cuts both ways. People see what they want. You can’t feed them medicine if they believe it’s poison. So says a wise woman. Ella Arrow believes in magic, especially the kind we make for ourselves. Her book, The Flight of the Starling, A Fairy Tale, is available on Amazon and in bookshops. She writes stories and makes art in her home near Madison, Wisconsin. Join her quest for a magical life on www.ella-arrow.com. Image: Jessie M. King FLASH FICTION RUNNER UP "EVER AFTER" by Tish Black You know, the people who write “they lived happily ever after” aren’t the people living the ever after. They don’t know. They just stop the story after the wedding and assume that marriage makes everyone happy and that happiness sticks around forever. My father had promised my hand in marriage to whoever could rescue me from the ogre. A sensible transaction; without a daughter, his family line could not continue, and a man strong, brave, and clever enough to defeat an ogre is the kind of blood you want in your family line. Of course, I didn’t know I was being sold to the highest bidder, I had more pressing concerns at that moment. I wasn’t the only girl the ogre had stolen. Five of us huddled together for warmth at the back of the ogre’s cave, devising a plan of escape. If anything, this guy ruined our plan. It’s amazing that we all still managed to escape. And rescue him from the ogre on the way out. This guy was a better storyteller than a rescuer. His recounting of the events didn’t sound familiar to me, but my father bought it, so the wedding was planned. My fellow captives became my bridesmaids. We all agreed that the flowers were lovely, the dress was lovely, the groom was lovely, the castle was lovely. Yes, it was a much lovelier place to be held captive than an ogre’s cave. So, we huddled together and devised a lovely plan of escape. And so, there was a wedding and the bride did live happily ever after. Just not with the groom. Tish Black is a writer, content creator, and film programmer. She creates fairy tale & folklore content as Tales with Tish, including video essays exploring fairy tale films. Her first book of short stories inspired by fairy tales will be published in late 2023. Find her online at TishBlack.com. Image:The Public Domain Review Both these tales are featured in our September issue, TALES FROM THE NIGHT QUEEN'S REALM ...packed with original fairy tale stories, poems, art, articles, and an interview with author, Alice Hoffman! FEATURING WORKS BY Ella Arrow - Amanda Bergloff - Cecilia Betsill - Tish Black Sarah Cannavo - Jayne Cohen - Sara Cleto - A.J. Cunder Sofia Ezdina - Alyson Faye - Hannah Grace Greer Kelly Jarvis - Rosanne E. Lortz - Leila Murton Poole Deborah Sage - Marcia Sherman - Margaret Fisher Squires Laren Stover - Brittany Warman You can find TALES FROM THE NIGHT QUEEN'S REALM single issue HERE and check out other past issues HERE
- Throwback Thursday: Applesauce by Marsheila Rockwell
Editor’s note: Just when we thought we'd seen every possible permutation on “Snow White,” Marsheila came along with this dark yet strangely lighthearted take on the old classic. We think you’ll see why we were delighted by this story. Enjoy! The witch checked her basket one last time before approaching the cottage in the woods. The apple on top was plumper, redder, and shinier than all the others, making even her mouth water. She pulled the gingham back over the fruit as she reached the cottage door and knocked timidly, settling into her guise. A young girl soon opened the door. She had corpse-pale skin, moondark hair, and lips like clotted blood, features no mirror would ever call fair. “Yes?” “Hello, dearie! I am selling these lovely apples, the finest—” the witch began, her voice crackling with illusory age as she uncovered her wares. The girl’s eyes lit up with hunger. “I’ll take the whole basket!” the girl interrupted, disappearing back inside for a moment and returning with a small pouch. “This should be more than enough to cover it,” she said, flashing the neck open to show a sparkle of diamonds. “Why, yes, but—” the witch began again, flustered, but the girl snatched the basket away and shoved the pouch into her hands in its place. “No time, grandmother. Be careful in the woods. There are wolves about.” And with that, the girl slammed the cottage door and was gone. The witch stared at the closed door, flummoxed. This was not how she had envisioned her encounter with her runaway stepdaughter taking place. Still, if it got the job done…. She pressed her ear to the door to listen. There. The crunch of teeth biting into the flesh of an enchanted apple. Perfect. The witch turned and headed back into the woods, smiling as she tucked the pouch into her bodice. Soon she would be the ailing king’s only heir. And his darling daughter had just paid for—and hastened—what would be a very lavish funeral, indeed. * * * The girl watched from behind a curtained window while her stepmother disappeared amongst the trees. Had the old bat really thought she wouldn’t be recognized, or that her peddler’s disguise would hide her true identity from one who knew her so well? One to whom she had taught the same tricks of illusion, once upon a time? She had tasted the flavor of the other woman’s magic immediately, and spit out the bite of fruit the moment the witch was out of earshot. This wasn’t the first time the witch had tried to kill her, and it wouldn’t be the last, and one of these days, the girl would fail to soften the huntsman’s heart or detect the hint of poison, and then what? She’d be dead, and all for a kingdom that hated her because she was not, and had no desire to be, her mother. The girl eyed the basket of apples on the low table, topped by the one she’d bitten into, its flesh already browning. It did seem a shame to let her all her stepmother’s effort go to waste…. * * * That night, when the girl’s companions returned home from the mines, carrying bags of uncut gemstones and hunks of golden ore to add to the hoard already stored in their ever-expanding root cellar, she served them vegetable soup, acorn flour bread with goat butter, and mugs of that same goat’s milk. She watched them eat, longing as always for the taste of red meat, but the brothers were strict vegetarians. The one whose snoring kept her up most nights sloshed soup out of his bowl with every spoonful. The one who thought himself a jester regaled the stupid one with poorly-told jokes they all knew by heart, and acted offended when one or another of his brothers would blurt out the punchline prematurely. The sullen one glared at the one with social anxiety for some imagined slight, making the anxious one cry snotty tears into his mug. The one who was always sick coughed something wet and sticky onto the butter dish. While the girl hurried to clean it up, the one who fancied himself a healer prescribed a concoction of common herbs she knew would be fatal in that particular combination. She said nothing. When they were finished with their supper, the girl served them each a bowl of freshly made applesauce, still warm from her cauldron. She watched as they wolfed down the dessert, and obliged with a smile when they asked for more. A smile that only widened when the first one paled, the second one began to sweat, the third one clutched his stomach in pain, the fourth one began to foam at the mouth, the fifth one began to seize, the sixth one vomited into his bowl, and the seventh one, finally, began to scream. * * * The witch returned to the cottage a few days later, expecting to find the girl’s companions mourning over her lifeless body. Instead, the cottage door stood open, the sickly-sweet smell of death reaching her from across the clearing. She approached cautiously, then stood at the threshold, peering inside the silent abode. As her eyes adjusted, she could see upended chairs, scattered bowls, and bodies. Seven corpses lay about the table, innards bared with whatever had been near to hand—pickaxes, butter knives, their own black-nailed fingers—to try and remove the poison burning through them. To no avail. The witch also noted the open cellar door and a trail of spilled gold and gems. It led toward a back door, and the horse and wagon she knew without looking would no longer be hitched there. She had wanted the girl gone, to eliminate any claim the child might have to the witch’s throne. And gone she was, fled with all the riches she would ever need, someplace where the witch would have no reason to follow. She smiled. It seemed the girl had been a better student than she let on and the crafty apple hadn’t fallen far from the cunning tree. Their rivalry hadn’t ended how she’d imagined, but the witch would take it. Whatever got the job done. Marsheila (Marcy) Rockwell is a Rhysling Award-nominated poet and the author of twelve books and dozens of poems and short stories. A disabled pediatric cancer and mental health awareness advocate and reconnecting Chippewa/Métis, she lives in the desert with her family, buried under books. Image: “The Poisoned Apple,” by Wanda Gag, 1938.