Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores, December 2019

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Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, December 2019

A Possession of Magpies” by E. E. King

Reviewed by Seraph

This is a heartfelt, beautiful short story that loses none of the joy it ends upon throughout the somberness of its body. It’s every bit a celebration of life and living as it is a eulogy and an account of an old woman’s final days. We’re introduced to Catherine, her home near the cemetery looking out over Drake’s Bay, assumedly in California. Beyond it being near the end of her life, the timeline can merely be inferred as modern, by the reference to cars and by the mention of a young lover who died upon the battlefields of France. That young lover is Tommy, and much as he was central to her young life, he is central now to her passing.

The titular magpies, according to myth, would swoop down and catch up souls as they passed on, although, as she wonders, what becomes of the souls caught by the birds? The answer bears an eerie similarity to a saying I heard as a child that goes something like “As one life ends, another begins, and so the cycle is renewed.” There are quiet, beautiful moments in this short story, as well as sorrowful ones, and it ends on a hopeful, joyful note.