Worm Fiddling Nocturne in the Key of a Broken Heart, by Kimberly Lojewski

I requested this book from Edelweiss purely because of the name. How could I pass up something with the title of Worm Fiddling Nocturne in the Key of a Broken Heart? I am thoroughly delighted to report that Kimberly Lojewski’s collection of fantastical stories are even better than the title. I loved every story in this collection and strongly recommend it to people who like modern fairy tales/folk lore, stories that celebrate the wild, and strong female characters.

Some of my favorite stories in this collection include:

“Baba Yaga’s House of Forgotten Things.” I enjoyed this book for two reasons. The first (and primary) reason is that it takes place in a reform school that is run by temperamental grannies. The idea just tickles me. The second is that the quirky, kids-versus-adults story resolves into a beautiful ending in which the main character finds what he didn’t even know he had lost.

“The Ballad of Sparrow Foot.” This is my favorite story, hands down. In it, Sparrow Foot (a woman with a bird leg and patchy feathers) is a captive of a “freak show.” She’s been there for a long time and has just about given up hope that she will ever be free. After all, she doesn’t have the strength of the wolf-boy or the wiles of the water nymph. But it turns out that she has a secret weapon just waiting to be unleashed.

“One for the Crow.” This may be the most disturbing story in the collection because the main character, who lives for the yearly harvest, suffers a horrific act of violence. But she finds healing and redemption when magic comes into her life.

Some of the stories include call backs to each other, but the settings bounce around the world from Louisiana to Nepal. It’s hard to say when they’re set. Because of the magical creatures and wildness, the stories in Worm Fiddling Nocturne feel like bridges to our cultural past, when we lived on the edges of forests and had to take fairy tales as serious cautionary tales. I loved every word.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss for review consideration.

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