Immortelle: Catherine McCarthy
Reviewed By Steve Stred
I’ve only had the pleasure of reading Catherine’s short fiction and poems over the last few years, so when the news was announced that she had a release coming soon from Off Limits Press, I was over the moon. Sam and Off Limits Press have already established themselves as a publisher to be reckoned with and with ‘Immortelle,’ we’ll see why McCarthy is a writer that you must read.
What I liked: ‘Immortelle’ tells the story of a woman struggling to deal with her daughter passing away. Her death doesn’t sit right with her. But, in order to honor her, she builds a memorial piece, an immortelle, that is supposed to allow the deceased to be able to stay connected with their family.
From here, McCarthy crafts a story that is both grief-driven but also filled with twists and turns as more details come to light. I really loved the mother character. Elinor was a lady who managed to balance her sorrow with the growing demand for others who wanted her to build them immortelle’s for their lost loved ones.
The writing is crisp, the pacing spot on, and the ending is superb. McCarthy takes us on a very difficult journey, but one that ultimately will (hopefully) give the reader closure.
What I didn’t like: I’m not sure if there was a word count limit here with this novella, but I would’ve loved to see the ‘who done it’ aspect given one or two more suspects/twists. It was straightforward as to who the culprit was from the beginning but that didn’t diminish the rest of the story.
Why you should buy this: McCarthy writes tales that make everything feel dark and rainy. She has such a gift of covering even the nicest parts of a story with gloom and despair and ‘Immortelle’ really showcases this aspect well.
A solid, sad story, one that’ll stay with me for a long time.
I hope ‘Immortelle’ rockets off the line on release day, as McCarthy, and this story, deserve to be read.
When Elinor’s daughter, Rowena, is found poisoned and dead in an animal trough, Elinor is sure the local parish priest is to blame.
A ceramic artist by trade and influenced by her late grandmother’s interest in supernatural magic, Elinor crafts an immortelle for Rowena’s grave and attempts to capture the girl’s spirit in the clay model of a starling.
Soon she is inundated with requests for immortelles and the more immersed in the craft she becomes, the greater her powers grow.
As the dead share their secrets with grieving Elinor, she learns the sordid truth of what happened to her beloved daughter and plots a revenge so hideous, it must be kept a secret forever.
Steve Stred is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections. He has appeared in anthologies with some of Horror’s heaviest hitters.
He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife, son and their dog OJ.
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