Review of Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand

See the Elephant review of Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Handby Paul St. John Mackintosh

A Folk Rock Frightener in England

Elizabeth Hand, a prize-winning New York-born author who lives in Maine, has produced one of the best English mystery tales for many a day. “It began as a riff on Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca,” she has said elsewhere, and the riff developed into a mesmerizing original composition with, as it happens, a strong musical theme.

The story is pieced together, rockumentary style, out of retrospective accounts from former members, followers, and associates of a seminal Seventies folk-rock band, Windhollow Faire, creators of a single classic album, Wylding Hall, recorded at the house of the same name, “a beautiful old wreck of a stately home in the English countryside,” during one enchanted – and ultimately deadly – summer. “Inexplicable and terrible – things are always good for the music business,” as onetime manager Tom Haring says of what transpires. A legend is born – or reborn, as links to earlier English myths reveal. Read more »

Cabinet of Wonders: Menagerie of Weird Creatures

Cabinet of Curiosities with birdsweb fiction reviews by Lauren Colie

Open the door into a menagerie for this week’s Cabinet. Strange beings and strange people populate the shelves, each a curio for us to consider. There are questions about ethics, character and love wrapped up in bizarre, two-headed and three-footed packages. Don’t forget: there’s always more than meets the eye.

A Review of “The Springwood Shelter for Genetically Modified Animals,” by Verity Lane at Crossed Genres

They were in another corridor, but this one was lined not with doors, but with glass. On both sides there were pens holding more kinds of animals than Mel had ever seen in real life. The only animals Mel usually saw were the ubiquitous AdPigeons with their colourful, commercial wings. But here there were all the animals she’d only seen on screens.

Lions, tigers and genetically-modified polar bears, oh my! Read more »

Up the Fire Road (part two), fiction by Eileen Gunn


“Was I on some kind of strange drug? Was I in the woods at all? Was I at my mom’s house, and having some kind of a psychotic episode?”

Up the Fire Road, illstration of fiction by Eileen Gunn for See the Elephant Magazine

Up the Fire Road, collage by Sophia Hermes

Read PART ONE of “Up the Fire Road” HERE.



Mickey wasn’t bad in bed. He was younger than I had thought, and he gave good head. He was a lot gentler than Christy, too. Christy likes it kind of rough and fast. Not that there was anything wrong with that, but Mickey was a gentleman, and quite attractive in a way. Kind of hairy, though. Some guys are just, like, bears if they don’t wax it all off, but I’d never slept with a guy who was as hairy as Mickey.

So he was talking afterward, real quiet, the way some guys do, just trying to find out a little about you, and maybe trying to impress you a bit with who they are. He mentioned this workshop that he had. To hear him tell it, he could make anything he wanted, which I guess explains about the bowls and the cups. Well, what he said was “it” could make anything he needed, but he was a little vague about what “it” was. Didn’t trust me, I guess. But he said he’d bring me something nice, something that was useful. I wondered what he meant, because if he could have anything he needed, why would he be living in a cave? Read more »

Up the Fire Road (part one), fiction by Eileen Gunn


“If life seems slow and meaningless, go somewhere where you depend on Christy to get you back.”

(“Up the Fire Road” originally appeared in Eclipse One.)

Up the Fire Road, illstration of fiction by Eileen Gunn for See the Elephant Magazine

Up the Fire Road, collage by Sophia Hermes


The main thing to understand about Christy O’Hare is he hates being bored. Complicated is interesting, simple is dull, so he likes to make things complicated.

Used to be the complications were more under his control. Like one time he went down to Broadway for coffee, but the coffee place was closed. So he hitched a ride downtown, but the driver was headed for Olympia on I-5, so Christy figured he’ll go along for the ride and get his coffee at that place in Oly that has the great huevos. He ended up thumbing to San Francisco and coming back a week later with a tattoo and a hundred bucks he didn’t have when he left home. I think he was more interested in doing something that would make a good story than he was in getting a cup of coffee. But I did wonder where the hell he was.

He’s not a bad guy. I don’t agree with what my mother said about him being a selfish son-of-a-bitch. But Christy is the star of his own movie, and it’s an action flick. If life is dull, just hook up with him for a while. And if life seems slow and meaningless, go somewhere where you depend on him to get you back. Read more »

Cabinet of Wonders: Cons, Scabs and Swarms

Cabinet of Wonders, Baja California, Metaphysical Circus Press

Cabinet of Wonders, Baja California by Sophia Hermes

web fiction reviews by Lauren Colie

Wide open skies, sprawling Western states and the tippy-top of the atmosphere. Here, we can spend time wondering who we are — this week, we’re taking field trips. Run across plains, climb mountains, soar skyward, abandon work and embark on a Kerouacian exploration of self and society. Let the Weird introduce you to the wonderful.


A Review of Everybody’s Bluffing, by Miles Klee at Electric Literature

Found it took your average sober man not long to pick up something queer about us, at which point he was apt to fight. It didn’t ever make sense, what they said, the reasons they came up with. Two pubs tossed us because of Lionel’s scarf (it was “swishy”), and one hotel manager said a guest complained that a man of “guttering respiration” had lurked outside her door. Read more »

Cabinet of Wonders: Letters from the Dead

Disappearing Dads, Time Traveling Doctors, and Letters from the Dead

Cabinet of Wonders, 8.28.15

Image courtesy of Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
The figure of a woman divided in two parts: half skeleton, half lady of fashion, standing next to a obelisk inscribed with biblical quotations. Etching, 17–, attributed to V. Green.
By: Valentine Greenafter: James HerveyPublished: –
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

Web Fiction Reviews by Lauren Colie

It seems a little abnormal to find a Lauren and a Loren writing fabulous fiction this week (with reviews written by a Lauren). What is normal, anyway? Is it polos and boat shoes? Is it the desire to fix mistakes? Is it the humble town post office? Is it being named Lauren? I couldn’t tell you…but these authors can. Well, they can point you in the right direction. Once you identify what is normal, I hear them all asking, why?

A Review of Disappearing Dad Disorder, Excerpted from You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine, by Alexandra Kleeman at Electric Literature

“What was at the root of Disappearing Dad Disorder? Sociologists said it was social, psychologists said it was psychological, and some religious nut said they had heard a call from God to leave behind their wicked lives. Biologists compared it to migration and to songbirds that become confused in the presence of skyscrapers. They compared them to honeybees who abandon their hives: maybe the fathers had been misled by cell phone signals, by highways, by toxins in the water supply.” Read more »

Butterflies, fiction by Zoe Fowler


“I am well versed in fairy tales where centuries skitter past in less than a sentence, but in reality, when one is lying all dressed up in one’s finest garments with whalebone corsetry digging deep in the spaces between one’s ribs, each day stretches out like a possible lifetime and all one can do is to listen, and discretely fidget.”

Butterfly Tongue, photo by Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility

Butterfly Tongue, photo by Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility

TIRED OF THE IMPOSSIBILITIES of my life, I made a dinner date with the Devil.

Station Hotel, seven o’clock.

I wanted to exchange what I had for a new world in which I might satisfy my thirst for independence, my love of lepidopterology, and my aversion to complications.

I dislike arriving early and entered the dining room as the chime sounded a quarter past the hour. The Devil was already engrossed in the menu and did not rise from his chair as I was seated. He was surprisingly conservative in his dress: fashionable enough, but not quite clean. His dark hair was slicked back from his forehead, his moustache was waxed, and the pallor of his face had been enhanced through the judicious application of face paint. A light smattering of dandruff covered the narrow shoulders of his black frock coat.

Even the most cursory reading of the Bible suggests the Devil must have some good stories to tell and I had hoped for an entertaining evening, but silence sweltered between us until I spoke some of the words I had practiced at home. Read more »

Cabinet of Wonders: Feral Mail, Hungry Curtains & Fork Phobia

By Visscher, Nicolao Iohannis (Universiteits Bibliotheek van Amsterdam) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Visscher, Nicolao Iohannis (Universiteits Bibliotheek van Amsterdam) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

web fiction reviews by Lauren Colie

I’m moving. Packing up all of my possessions, all of me, and claiming a new spot as my home. It only makes sense that I’m seeing signs of change all over the place — including this week’s Cabinet picks. See how relocating shakes up more than just coordinates and let these authors readjust what you know to be real.

A Review of The Apartments of Strangers, Excerpted from The Beautiful Bureaucrats, by Helen Phillips at Electric Literature

When she returned from her second Thursday at the new job, he wasn’t at the stranger’s apartment. She pulled a postal notice off the door and stepped inside just as she heard the three-headed dog heave itself against the door at the end of the hall. Her hands felt weak and her eyes hazy. She added the postal notice to the stranger’s feral pile of mail on the bedside table. She sat down on the futon. She called Joseph’s phone. It went straight to voice mail. She didn’t leave a message Read more »

The Conversion, fiction by Barry King


“…where Babylonians once dreamt of priapic bug-eyed daemons from the Seven Hells, and Mediaeval peasants of night-time violations by black-eyed, black-hearted, black-winged seducers and seductresses, in our current age and scientific culture, we now suffer a rash of abductions by grey, facet-eyed aliens in their glowing spaceships who probe our rectal cavities, presumably against our wishes.”

Illustration of The Missionary, short story by Barry King

“The Missionary” Illustration © Megan James

WHEN THE MISSIONARY FIRST stepped off the ship and onto the soil of our town, he kept the eye hidden behind a standard-issue opthalmological patch. “Like a Barbary pirate,” he was to joke, later, when bar-rail after-hours drinks emboldened one of us to ask about it, now that he was no longer keeping it hidden.

Neon gave its facets a special light, a magical glitter. All of us remember how, on that night, alcohol imposed its distancing effects upon perception and memory so that it seemed less out of place, less as if his head had been moulded from different colours of plasticine, the bulge of it and the inset of his face now a seam of quartz and garnet in dark marble, slightly puckered, slightly proud of the high arch of his cheekbone.

But he was affable, the Missionary, and bore our curious stares with humour. “Good grace,” Mrs. Hendergast whispered to her companion, Miss Emily, as they watched him saunter with an easy, confident stride down Main Street.

Despite the unbearable heat and the glistening sweat on her face, Mrs. Hendergast tried to hold herself more erect, coaxing some loft from her weary back as the Missionary walked by their screened porch. Boxwood scent blended with the jasmine and musk of the Japanese fan she used to shield whispered observations from lip-reading eyes. “Good grace is always attractive in a man, Miss Emily,” she concluded, continuing to follow his slender form as it retreated into the distance. Miss Emily mutely nodded her agreement and followed the Missionary’s passage, the whites of her eyes glinting in the deep shade. Read more »