Tag: Sarah Tolmie

Review – Sacraments for the Unfit

Posted October 29, 2023 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Review – Sacraments for the Unfit

Sacraments for the Unfit

by Sarah Tolmie

Genres: Fantasy, Short Stories
Pages: 146
Rating: three-stars

The isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic brought out the ritualist in many of us. In this collection of contemporary weird short fiction, a variety of different persons and beings try to fill up their days in varying states of isolation and mystery, real or imaginary. An angel outlives the Apparat that used to employ him; a deity complains about no longer feeling seen; a museum curator living alone begins to inexplicably alter; a medievalist suffering from vision loss gets into a strange relationship with the ghost of the codicologist M. R. James; enigmatic objects begin to work themselves out of the ground by the grave of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, prompting scholarly speculation. Sacraments For the Unfit is a series of vignettes about the transformations that can happen while staying in place.

I can see why this book has been compared with Ursula Le Guin’s work. It had the same quality I have with some of her more impenetrable stories where I just don’t quite “get it”. Some of them seem to require some outside knowledge for more clarity — a little knowledge of M.R. James wouldn’t hurt, or Wittgenstein, which is quite the ask (I know a little about James, almost nothing about Wittgenstein).

In the end I don’t regret reading it, but also it wasn’t quite 100% squarely my thing, if that makes sense. I’m eager to read more of Tolmie’s books and stories, though: I really liked The Fourth Island and All the Horses of Iceland.

Rating: 3/5

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Review – All the Horses of Iceland

Posted June 1, 2022 by Nicky in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of All the Horses of Iceland, by Sarah TolmieAll the Horses of Iceland, Sarah Tolmie

If you’re familiar with Icelandic sagas, this is probably especially delightful — certainly that familiarity enhanced this book for me, and I’m not sure what I’d have made of it without that background. Tolmie captures something of the rhythm and the language of the sagas (albeit of course in English, but you might be familiar with it even from translations), and the way of thinking.

It all felt so familiar, like surely it must really be part of that tradition, right down to the interpolations by a later Christian author. It’s pretty perfect mimicry, and an enchanting sort of fairytale.

I enjoyed it a lot, and enjoyed the thought she put into how to present the world and choose her words (as evident from the author’s note at the end).

Rating: 4/5

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