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Sonja Ska Reviews, 4/18/2024

Gwendolyn Kiste has a way of making frightening things beautiful with an undercurrent of melancholy that makes you want to burrito yourself in blankets and lay on the floor. 

Boneset and Feathers is a dark fairy tale about witches and the people who hunt them. It's full of ghosts, eerie shadows, and visceral scenes in graveyards, but the real horror comes in the form of societal power dynamics and the people who fall prey to them. Everything centers around Odette - a witch who has banished herself to a magic-free life after Witchfinders burned every witch in the area except for Odette, who would not burn. Her life of isolation comes to an abrupt end once birds start falling from the sky, and there's only one person the town can blame. 

Odette has to confront her trauma in a story that captures what it means to not only be a woman but also someone who doesn't conform to the rules of society. Tackling heavy subjects head-on, Bonset and Feathers is a somber and oppressive read, which is the perfect tone for what Odette is going through. I felt equal parts suffocated, angered, and hopeless as I traveled the world with her, knowing all too well how hopeless her position seemed. 

As always, Kiste's writing is lyrical and beautiful. While Boneset and Feathers leans into fantasy, there's enough gruesome imagery sprinkled within to keep horror fans happy. 

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