Microfiction inspired by stormy weather and lost sisterhood

Clouds thicker than Peruvian fog, vaporous specters rising across the shifting mirror of the sky. The day’s restlessness calms my peregrine heart, part of the patterning and paradox of life I’ve come to cherish. Chilling drops of rain splatter like surprises on my upturned face, not unpleasant, like a birthday party you didn’t expect but appreciated, despite not caring much for the attention it brought. And it reminds me of home, all the homes that I’ve lost, in people, places and ideas, almost forgotten.


I turn at the sound of my name on the lips of Singita, my sister; at the grey sky mirrored in her kind eyes, as much in natural colour as in mood, even under the umbrella she holds overhead. I start as she moves to wrap a thick, knitted shawl around my shoulders, its bold, symmetrical patterning as twin to the one already draped around her, as she was to me. Her eyes glance towards the door she left open; mine follow.

“Mama said to come in before you make yourself sick standing out here. She wants you to check the upstairs shutters before Sari–before the storm hits.”

I nod as I move towards the door of our home – Burro Casita – and the warm, spiced scents of mama’s dinner wafting through an inner archway, pulling me further inside. If comfort had a scent, it would be this. Tugging the shawl tighter around me, I make my way up the endless flight of stairs great grand-uncle Bruno was said to have built almost two hundred years ago. The future is in the bones of all who walk this way, reads the plaque at the top of the landing on the ninth floor. Two more floors after that and I would have made it to the top of our house – eleven stories and five generations tall – despite its modest appearance from the outside.

Entering each room, I inspect the storm shutters for breaks, lubricating their tracks in preparation for Sarita.


The name of the oncoming storm . . . and my vanished, younger sister.

The sister whose lips I cursed to never kiss again, the day I caught them on Milo, our neighbour and childhood friend. She was always taking – and breaking – my stuff. He was no exception.

“I hate you!! How could you kiss him?!”

. . . I love you. How could you leave?


Review by Knicky L. Abbott

Author name: Naomi Novik

Book Title: Uprooted

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: He may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every 10 years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.” 

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for 10 years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. 

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows – everyone knows – that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Publication date: 1st March, 2016

Available formats: Paperback, Hardcover, Audiobook and Kindle

Purchase Link:

I’ve been meaning to write this review since summer 2021, when I first read this book, and I’m afraid I’ve waited too late. But I can’t shake the fact that I must sing the praises of the most wonderful fantasy story I’ve read since my childhood days, no matter how much time has passed since reading it. Perfectly named, and filled with characters I will never forget, Uprooted is the story of a natural village witch, Agnieszka, sacrificed to a beautiful but cold wizard, Sarkan the Dragon, and used for her magic to keep the malevolent, corrupted darkness of the Woods from consuming not only her village, and nearby villages, but all the world.

This book fed me for days, alternating between a languid, poetic, nature-infused read and an exciting, page-turning, moreish binge. No matter where I took my breaks, I couldn’t shake its satisfying hold on my imagination, called and called again by the small adventures and sweeping epic in which Agnieszka found herself entangled, from living with and learning from Sarkan, to the historical intrigue of a taken Queen, lost all these years to the Wood, and the political strongarm of her prince-son demanding that they find his mother. When I read the last line on the last page, I mourned for days the absence of the characters I had come to adore.

It is those characters, their chemistry and their finer details, that is the backbone of this book. I particularly enjoyed the character of Kasia, Agnieszka’s dearest friend, who was not at all who or how I thought she would be at the end of their journey; Her character so quietly strong, resolute and masterful, echoed the skill of novelist Novik in a manner that felt perfectly true to form. Yet it was the character of and behind the Wood itself, that left its mark on my mind as simply fantastic, and one of the most originally-rendered antagonists I have read in a fantasy story to date.

The feeling of time and things in this story are unmatched in their fantastical elements, unmatched and utterly delightful, leaving me greedy and deeply enthralled. It didn’t just feel set in the village of Dvernik in the kingdom of Polnya, it felt set in the very heart of me, and there is nothing more I love than a good story that makes me feel like I’ve come home to myself. A beautiful tale written in beautiful prose, Uprooted will remain a favourite of mine close to forever, and I cannot wait to get into other books of similar ilk to feed the near-hunger it left behind.

Beyond Her Ramparts

She throws the walls up around herself higher than her eyes can see. They erase the open sky, and she disappears into forever. She is infinite, a story, walls without end. Walls deep and dense like forests, stony and unyielding like caves. They hold her transfixed, keep her safe from outside worlds, far below and deep within. These walls do not crack, do not allow for anyone’s entry, or escape. Impregnable. Incurious. Unfeeling. Nothing can reach her in this tower, where no windows or doors exist. How free she is, entrapped here, hidden away from everything that would do her harm.

She waits. Not for the beast raging beyond her ramparts seeking its way back in, but for the boy, the beautiful boy still yet to come. He will be gifted by the faeries, as she was when she was a child. The gift of charm. The gift of brilliance. The gift of love. These gifts will he have and other gifts besides but on those she is too broken to dwell. Her face contorts from once-blushing maiden to a mad woman in the throes of anguish as she remembers why. As her eyes fall towards her engorged belly, swollen with the child of the beast.

She had thought her walls impregnable but a hard kick from the child inside her proves that she was wrong. She is strong, but so is this child, and so is his will. From the first time he came to her – a false face with false sentiments and sweeping gestures that promised happily ever after – she had wanted this. Until she recognized his hatred for her, realized that he saw her as nothing more than a thing with which to please himself, tearing at her again and again and again, until neither of them knew the person who was left.

Her heart beats hard and slow as her eyes travel up the wall before her. It is a poisoned apple her heart, each beat nourishing and embittered. All she had ever wanted was to be devoured by someone who could love her, not break through her barriers and leave her disfigured with his flesh and blood inside her body. But the child brings change, and the boy won’t need to cut a path through thorns to awaken her. Because he is the way, because he is the door, when she walks out through him, she’ll come home.

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