Here’s installment number two in my short story review series. Click here to see the rest and enjoy.
Pocosin by Ursula Vernon
reviewed by Bryan Perkins
“The preacher laughed. He had a gorgeous, church–organ laugh and Maggie’s heart clenched like a fist in her chest at the sound. She told her heart to behave. Witchblood ought to know better than to hold out hope of heaven.”
Maggie Grey was born old and she grew cynical. She’s a witch who’s been settling other people’s fights for too long now. All she wants is a little time to herself. She’s no quitter, she knows that what she does is necessary, she is a witch after all, but are a few weeks alone to drink whiskey, tie fishing flies, and stare at the pond too much to ask?
Pocosin presents itself as a modern fable complete with a possum god, the God, the Devil, and Death herself, all personified. What initially seems to be a simple fairy tale, driving toward a well-worn commentary on human interaction with nature, becomes instead a treatise on what it means to be a woman. Maggie, sitting on the porch with her grandmother Death, venting about her frustrations, says four words which make this theme all the more obvious and which drove me to give the story a second reading: “Ain’t I a witch?”
Maggie Grey is a witch like Sojourner Truth is a woman. And though witchkind has been dealing with these same issues for so long, though Maggie is sick and tired of stupid, sick and tired “of taking care of things, over and over, and having to do it again the next day,” she knows she has no choice but to carry on. All she asks for is a few weeks alone with her whiskey and fishing flies, the world can get on fine without her for such a short time.