Special Double Review
by Jerard Bretts & Charles Payseur
“The Dying Embers” by Inkeri Knotro
Reviewed by Jerard Bretts
In “The Dying Embers” Inkeri Kontro has been inspired by the folklore of her home country Finland to tell the story of a sauna-elf. This spirit of the sauna tells an unnamed visitor the story of his life. Seemingly immortal, he recounts his relationships with a number of women “who come and go, bathe for a night maybe.” The love of his life, however, is strong independent Saara but because he is immortal he is doomed to see her die and to forevermore endure profound loneliness. Kontro has ably translated the story from her native Finnish and uses the first person narrative technique and powerful poetic prose to great effect. A very engrossing piece of writing with an interesting twist at the end.
* * *
“The Dying Embers” by Inkeri Kontro
Reviewed by Charles Payseur
Inkeri Kontro builds an intriguing and yearning story about a sauna reminiscing on the loves of its life in “The Dying Embers.” Through a series of romantic, or at the very least sexual, encounters, the sauna relates its life, how it loved and how it lost and how its children came to sit beside it, how some others of its children went out into the world to find homes and humans to be with. It’s a strange idea, that the buildings around us might be alive, but the story does a good job of slowly bringing the story elements together, letting them bubble up to a boil that was believable and satisfying. It’s a story of loss most of all, as the aging sauna tells how each woman it loved left, how it remained. Melancholy and earnest, the prose fits nicely with the story, with the slow decline of the sauna. The ending puts something of a twist on things, but one that I wasn’t sure about. Things are just a little too ambiguous there for my tastes, though I think the story overall is well worth a read.
Charles Payseur lives with his partner and their growing herd of pets in the icy reaches of Wisconsin, where companionship, books, and craft beer get him through the long winters. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming at Perihelion Science Fiction, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, and Fantasy Scroll Magazine, among others. You can follow him on Twitter @ClowderofTwo