This collection of short stories draws you into a liminal world where reality is both sensual and porous, inhabited by principled people who love life and hate injustice. The stories cover several centuries, from the medieval period to the near future and often shed light on little-known histories through the characters present at the time, or through contemporary seekers who get close to something bygone and lost. This isn’t to say we’re overloaded with nostalgia or loss, though there are a few lost chances throughout, and a knowing sadness for a city being stifled by ‘progress’ in the London-based stories. Overall these tales are vibrant and relevant, displaying exquisite writing, passionate characters and strong sense of place.
Although each story stands alone, I took great pleasure in spotting the links – or should I say resonances – between them. They cover themes including quiet but persistent rebellion, love without borders and the malleable nature of time and space as revealed by physics or ritual. However some, most notably the first and last, have more concrete links, ties through shared histories and a particular song, which give a pleasing sense of unity just beyond the page. Or, as the last story, ‘The Turning Track’, has it, a hint of ‘mysterious tracks that run like threads or veins of ore through the layers of the cosmos’
If I have one complaint it’s that the endings don’t always deliver on the – often considerable – promise of the story; fading away quietly, or leaving a sense of incomplete resolution or ambiguity that some people may not mind but which I wasn’t always happy with. This one small issue aside, I’d say this is an extraordinary collection, with an unique voice that entices you to see the world in new ways.