Review: “Vacui Magia,” L. S. Johnson

Pros: The stories that make you go ‘wow!’
Cons: Some minor confusions
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Typically in an anthology like Vacui Magia: Stories, you expect to like some stories, not like others. Because of this I rarely give anthologies a particularly high score. In this case I’m going for a 4.5. With the exception of a couple places where I couldn’t quite get all of what the author was trying to communicate, I absolutely loved this anthology. It’s dark and winding, and meant for readers who don’t mind thinking a bit about what they’re reading. (That sounds obvious, but sometimes people just want something simple and straightforward.)

One of my favorite stories was the first one: “Little Men with Knives”. A school cafeteria worker leaves food out for the dwarfs so they’ll clean and arrange her house all neatly. If she ever forgets, they play tricks on her. In this one we see what happens when she starts to realize that maybe the little guys could do more than housework. And eventually we start to wonder whether the little men are really what they seem to be.

There’s a tale of conjuring and golem-creation which is incredibly absorbing. There’s a situation in which a creature has split itself in two, the better to feel and understand the universe. Unfortunately that split is having some side effects. Another tale about a woman who received a disturbing injury keeps things quite creepy.

A tale of grape vines on tainted land, and what’s happened to the woman who used to keep the land whole and fertile. Now it’s said she had congress with some sort of devil, and brought ruin down upon them.

There’s also a tale in the 1700s of a girl who entertains thoughts of marriage, who ends up a ‘kept woman,’ and is finally given over to a brothel. She’s building up a lot of rage after some… issues. The solution to her troubles is a wonderful one.

Vengeance, sorrow, curiosity, guilt–Vacui Magia is a heady mix of dark tales with moments of wonder.

NOTE: Free book provided by publisher in return for honest review

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