Like a lot of you, I’m sure, I’ve read some truly amazing books over this past year. Some have stayed with me long after I closed the back cover. They’ve served as both a great escape and a lens casting the world’s troubles into sharp focus. I’m thinking to do a blog post about it soon—would you be interested in that? Please share your recent favorite reads in the comments below, too! (New releases, rereads, old classics you read for the first time, etc.).
Last night, I finished the BEST short story I have ever read—I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s called “Braiding the Ghosts,” and it’s haunted me ever since (pun thoroughly intended).
I’ve never read anything quite like this story. It’s an intriguing blend of genres, though the only one I can share without spoiling the plot is “Gothic horror,” more in the thrilling, haunting, pensive, emotional way, vs. terrifying (though I did get goosebumps). Do brace yourself for some intense scenes, but nothing got above PG-13 (my own personal limit for horror stories, as I get quite squeamish!).
Have you ever encountered writing so beautiful, you visually rewind and read passages over and over again before moving on? I love stories that make me do that. It was such a visceral experience, physically going over the same grounds, while characters did the same in their world.
And without giving you any spoilers, I will tell you it was a BEAUTIFUL ending. I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I’m more stricken than ever by disappointing endings, or extremely depressing endings, and while that may make me a worse, less objective reader, it makes me a happier person, to be able to carry those stories in my soul, as they stay with me, whether I want them to or not. My husband found me crying in bed when he joined me for sleep last night, which might alarm some, but he knows me well enough to know that meant I was crying because I’d just finished a wonderful story, not an upsetting one.
I had never heard of C.S.E. Clooney before reading this story, but I will definitely be checking out her other stories. I encountered this story as part of The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2011 Edition short story collection that I got as a gift from my parents 10 years ago. (I’m not sure if it’s in print anymore, but you can find it used.) I use the book as an in-between while I’m recovering from “book hangover” (you know, not ready to move onto something new yet; still lost in the last world) or while I’m waiting on a new one from the library, as a hopeful gift list item), so I’ve been working through it pretty slowly, one or two stories at a time.
Good news: you can read the story online on the Mythic Delirium Books website!
I also read it’s been adapted into a play, which I’d love to see someday. (Don’t read this article till you’re done with the story!)
By the way, if you’re the type of person who likes to layer types of media that match a theme or mood—I’ve also been quite obsessed with Taylor Swift’s “Folklore” and “Evermore” albums since the second they came out. The dreamy, contemplative, raw vibes of these songs match “Braiding the Ghosts” very well, if you’d like something to listen to while thinking about the story (or even reading it)—especially “My Tears Ricochet,” “Willow,” and “Ivy.”
I highly recommend this exquisite, spooky story that makes us question our humanity. Even if you can’t travel right now, you can transport yourself into something ethereal and fascinating.
Let me know your thoughts on this story in the comments below—as well as any great books/stories you’ve read recently!