Review: ‘Butterfly Moon,’ by Anita Endrezze
The fifteen stories in this finely honed and well-polished collection have the power to cut away assumptions and alter a reader’s focus and direction as only a storyteller’s magic can do. Borrowed and reshaped from older folktales out of Anita Endrezze’s heritage and imagination, these stories take on new life in their contemporary settings.
In her author’s note, Endrezze writes, “I hope Butterfly Moon will take you adrift in another world that challenges and transforms your perceptions, yet leads you back home to yourself.”
Reality, the oldest shapeshifter we know, dances lightly on the pages of Butterfly Moon and often gives way to enchantments, supernatural events, and the whims of gods and fate. As prospective blessings for the reader’s journey, these stories don’t necessarily fit the traditional narrative arc of a problem leading to a climax. Endrezze’s tales are often unresolved slice-of-life glimpses into her characters and settings that end with a dire occurrence, an acceptance of fate, a troubling paradox or the workings of karma.
The joy, anger, life, and death in Endrezze’s vision are not bound by time, nor are they distinctly separate from the active and sentient world in which they’re set. “On This Earth” begins with the words, The house was a forest remembering itself. The pine trees that held up the walls dreamed of stars dwelling in their needles. When Desetnica leaves home to roam the world in “The Dragonfly’s Daughter” because she is the tenth child, it’s clear that the forest is watching when The blackberry bushes parted their thickets as I waded through green knots of fruit. After I passed, still following the dragonfly, the vines knitted together again, so that I was lost to the other side of kinship and orphaned into the unnamed forest.
While tightly knit into the stories’ plots, myth and symbolism add depth without intruding into the author’s economy of words, understated approach and matter-of-fact reverence to the cultural origins of her material. Endrezze does not explain or editorialize, but her omniscient care is everywhere through this collection from the paradoxes of “Raven’s Moon” to the grim unfolding of “The Vampire and the Moth Woman” to the humor of “Jay (Devil-may-care!)”
For the lovers of myths, legends, and folktales, this collection is highly recommended and a unique delight.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of paranormal short stories and contemporary fantasy novels, including the recently released mix of love and fate called “The Seeker.”