TiconderogaOnline, Issue 7, March 2006

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“The Grief Doll” by Lily Chrywenstrom

“Souls of our Sons” by N. Joy Dodds

In “The Grief Doll” by Lily Chrywenstrom, Tathie is a little girl with her mother’s corpse in the snowy mountains.  She’s lost, without the directions she needs to find her aunt, the person they were going to.  Suddenly, Tathie’s doll, Gittel, starts to speak.

The eventful beginning of “The Grief Doll” immediately catches the reader’s attention.  Gradually slowing its pace, the story creates an interesting blend of realism and fantasy.  The hard, realistic world of the mountains is relieved by fragments of fantasy as Tathie continues her difficult journey.  It is these moments of fanciful relief that establish the dreamy atmosphere that makes this story a charming read almost to its end.

In “Souls of our Sons” by N. Joy Dodds, a strange wind brings back to a little town the souls of its soldiers killed in war.  The bereaved village witnesses the return of the spirits of loved ones almost immediately after receiving the sad news of their deaths.

“Souls of our Sons” belongs to that captivating realm between horror and eeriness.  Without ever becoming gruesome, this story succeeds in creating the sort of unsettling atmosphere that usually characterizes a successful horror story.  The lovely (although not always uniform) style is the main component of this effect.  The unassuming and simple narration makes up for the absence of characterization in most of the secondary characters, and the reader is able to imagine the people and the town without feeling the lack of details too keenly.  As the little bereaved community passes from lost son to lost son, the vividness of the tale increases, making this story an entrancing read.