Wyldsight: Tales of Primal Fantasy
Satyros Phil Brucato
Quiet Thunder Productions, 2013
I confess I don’t read a lot of fiction. Crazy, I know–I used to devour fantasy novels in the late 90’s and 2000s, to the point where I would sometimes bring my bank account down to almost nothing in college. But as I got older, I learned I could fill in some of the gaps in my education myself, and so I became a dedicated nonfiction reader. These days I don’t get nearly as much time to read as I would like, and I’m mostly researching topics relevant to my work. So when I get to dig into a piece of good fiction, it’s a rare treat.
I’ve known the author of this little book of short stories for a few years now; I picked it up from him this past February at HowlCon, Portland’s wolf and werewolf convention (yes, we have one of those!) And yes, I did get it signed, because that’s one of the perks of buying direct from the author. Once I got home, the book sat for a few weeks while I finished up a much thicker tome, and was quite ready for lighter fare by the time I was done.
I say “lighter” to a limited degree. Brucato’s writing may be easy on the eyes, but the imagery bursts into full blossom the moment it hits the brain. Each one of these stories focuses on a wild woman, not the sort you find drunk and covered in Mardi Gras beads even in the middle of August, but the sort who lives in the true wilderness with wolves and dragons as her companions. You may be thinking of overdone tropes, but hear me out: this author has managed to pare away schlock and self-conscious moodiness to leave nothing but an excellent set of tales. Stories are everywhere; myths are ancient. But tales–those are for the telling.
And tell he does. There’s a revision of Little Red Riding Hood that blows away any other retelling I’ve found, and I’ve read a lot of them. There’s a feral re-imagining of the princess and the dragon with bare feet on warm stones and laughter in the dark. There’s a werewolf who wars within herself and finds a bit of truth on a littered beach. These and more hide in the pages of this book, and even the briefest story may leave the reader yearning to follow the protagonist deeper into the wild. Beyond the tales are backstories, more about how these pearls were created and what makes each one shine so brightly. And there’s a bit of a surprise at the very end…
Though what the end of the book left me with is the hope that someday he’ll write a novel in the same spirit, because I want to see more into the worlds that are born in his mind.