Tag Archives: jessica prescott

A Long Way After Dark

“You can hear a miracle a long way after dark.”

So begins my favorite book by my favorite fantasy author, Maggie Stiefvater’s All the Crooked Saints. Call me biased, but I believe it’s a flawless opening line.

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Haunted by the Past: The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Fictional Trauma

Halloween is a time for hauntings.

This month, we dig out our favorite scary movies to watch, transfixed, as angry mummies, homicidal circus clowns, demonic babies, psychotic dolls, and their ilk chase our intrepid herores all over God’s green earth. It’s no fun, being stalked by a supernatural Super-Freak. But you know what’s even worse? Being stalked by your own memories.

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The Ship of Souls: Salt to the Sea

“I wept because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.”

These simple words lie at the heart of Ruta Sepetys’ World War II masterpiece, Salt to the Sea. In it, she tells the story of the greatest maritime disaster in history: the wreck of the Wilhelm Gustloff. A Soviet submarine sank this German ocean liner on January 30, 1945. A staggering nine thousand people perished. (By comparison, the Titanic’s death toll was one thousand five hundred.) Because the Gustloff’s passengers were refugees from Nazi-occupied lands, their deaths went largely unreported and unmourned in the English-speaking world. I have a bachelor’s and a master’s in history, yet Sepetys’ fictional account was the first I ever heard of this tragedy.

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The Fabulous Forties: Romanticizing a Harrowing Period

People talk a lot about the glamour of the 1940s.

Of course, we all know what they mean. The classy outfits. The perfectly curled hair. Epic Hollywood blockbusters and dazzling Hollywood stars, from Casablanca to Citizen Kane, from Bergman to Bogart. Swing bands and soda fountains and “going steady” … and over it all, the distant rumble of foreign war. Just foreign enough to be thrilling, rather than terrifying.

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Collapsing a Triangle

I’ll be honest. I took way too long to settle on a topic for this issue, “Love Triangles.”

I sat and stared at my blank computer screen, racking my brains for something—anything!—yet coming up empty. Finally, I complained to a dear friend (and fellow Femnista writer). “Where have all the good love triangles gone? Why, oh why, can’t I think of one?”

Her response was immediate: “Sense and Sensibility! Your favorite Austen story!”

And lo, out of darkness, there appeared a great light… in my brain, that is. “Oh.” Continue reading

Something Out of Nothing: The Kitchen Madonna

Few authors capture the magic of childhood as well as Rumer Godden.

Until a year ago, I’d have argued the finest example is Godden’s Christmastime classic, The Story of Holly and Ivy, dual-narrated by a lonely orphan girl and a lonely doll without an owner. Now, though, I have to admit another Godden story, The Kitchen Madonna, might just give Holly and Ivy a run for their money. Continue reading

Rest in Peace: The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane

What’s your favorite Sherlock Holmes story?

Every Holmes fan has a different answer to that question. My own has always been “The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane.” Published in 1926, “Lion’s Mane” is the final installment in the collection entitled The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes. Because the Case-Book was the last Holmes anthology Conan Doyle published, “The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane” was the last story Sherlock Holmes (in his original incarnation, at any rate) would ever appear in. Continue reading

Music Makers: Joseph Plunkett and the Irish Easter Rising

“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.”

When Arthur O’Shaughnessy wrote his famous ode to the power of the poet’s imagination in 1873, he had no inkling how prophetic those words would prove. A poet’s imagination and dreams molded and fired the Easter Rising of 1916—the final catalyst of Irish independence, after four centuries of British oppression. That poet was Joseph Mary Plunkett, and 1916 was his last year on earth. Continue reading