The Witch in the Almond Tree and other stories, C.S.E. Cooney; narrated by the author (Self-published, $4.99, digital download, 4.25 hr., unabridged) December 2020.
Many people have tried to embark on some kind of creative or crafty project during the pandemic; author/narrator Cooney chose to self-produce a recording of three charmingly erotic works. The result is a sweet and steamy distraction. The titular story concerns a brilliant, assertive, and fun-loving witch who travels from school to visit her mother, her new stepfather, and her handsome and adorably naïve stepbrother, only to discover them ensnared by a malevolent ghost. If she can’t break the spell, they’ll all be forced to reenact the grisly and Grimm tale, “The Juniper Tree”, in which an evil stepmother murders her stepson and feeds him to the boy’s father. “Witch, Beast, Saint” unabashedly argues that some men might be more attractive as Beasts, and that rescue can take on many different forms. Finally, “Braiding the Ghosts” is a more contemporary story of a lonely young woman trained by her selfish, sociopathic grandmother to capture and enslave ghosts – you can guess where she eventually finds some solace. C.S.E. Cooney is a gloriously lusty writer and reader, in all senses, whose joie de vivre shines through her writing and narration. I just can’t help but enjoy an author whose go-to solution to an apparent love triangle always seems to be a threesome.
This review and more like it in the April 2021 issue of Locus.
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