Expected Publication Date: February 20, 2018
Format: E-book from Netgalley
“Wonder and terror meet at the horizon, and we walk the knife-edge between them.” These words end the introduction to this powerful, haunting collection of short stories. Sachdeva explains in her introduction that in old times people knew better than to trust their gods. “Gods” enter these stories in unexpected, sometimes wondrous and sometimes terrifying ways. I put “gods” in quotations because what enters into these stories is never called god or what is expected of god, but instead is a force, a magical entity, something otherworldly that is hard to put a name to.
Sachdeva’s stories take place in many locations around the globe and at many different time periods, some past, others present and one in a horrific dystopian future. Sometimes this magical presence offers harm or mischief into the character’s life and at other times it offers comfort, but most often both occur. Even when this magical entity is helping the characters out of a horrible situation, there is a terrible flip side to it. For example, the young women kidnapped in Abuja are able to fool their captors by looking into their eyes and hypnotizing them. They continue to use this skill in their lives as they evade not only their captors, but to their advantage to steal from others. And on a deeper level, even though they have escaped their captors, they can never return home as the innocent young girls they were. They have irrevocably changed. In another story, a newly-wed fisherman becomes enamored of the mermaid he encounters off the coast of Newfoundland. However, as his enamorment of the mermaid grows, the rest of the world fades in beauty and interest for him. Now, this mermaid is in love with a giant great white shark and sings to bring fish to the shark so he will be well fed and not wish to eat her. This makes the fisherman extremely successful when fishing in these parts, however, there is an extremely disturbing development when tropical fish begin to fill their nets.
These stories are deep and convoluted. They force the reader to ponder serious questions. There are dark mysterious forces at work within these stories, but such ethereal beauty as well. I thought these stories were incredibly well conceived and executed. There is something unnerving and unsettling about them that touches upon something real that is hard to put into words. The title is so appropriate because there is so much we cannot quite perfectly describe but feel, and many ascribe it to Gods or higher being. I would highly recommend reading this!