Beneath is a bird cage. Made of polished antler, carved and stained the hue of honey, each rail wound with silver wire. Inside, not clinging to a perch, but huddling at the bottom on a folded piece of gold cloth, is a bird.
From ‘Seeds’, Midnight and Moonshine.
Midnight and Moonshine begins with the evocative and bloody story of the flight of Mymnir, one of Allfather Odin’s ravens, escaping from Asgard as Ragnarök destroys the gods. In Hannett’s and Slatter’s mosaic of short stories, Mymnir is the white raven, a creature of magic and memory, who flees the wreckage of her old world, re-making herself as a woman and a queen on the shores of the new world. She brings splinters of Asgard with her, creating a new people – the Fae – and a new realm for herself.
Mymnir is beautiful beyond imagining, but also cruel, powerful, merciless, and willful. The people she creates become her lovers, subjects, servants, slaves, and eventually also her enemies, and we glimpse their fates and lives through the short stories: each tale connected, each tale another mesmerizing piece of this fantasy-tale mosaic. In the tales we also meet other refugees and remnants of Asgard: Lokí, Mymnir’s dark raven-twin Huginn, fire giants, ice giants, the Norns…
As time passes, some Fae break free of Mymnir’s power, and the magical Fae blood mingles with human blood through the ages: they mix with the skraelings of the new world, they marry into human families, but their magic and otherness remains, even if it is diluted.
Hannett and Slatter’s writing is entrancing and evocative, their tales shifting between brutal and enigmatic, frightening and enchanting, dark and light. There is passion, vengeance, mystery, and terror in these tales – and the mood and feel is that of old fairy-tales and myths, the old-school kind, with blood, and guts, and life and death rather than pretty romance. Threads of Norse mythology are woven into each tale, but the mythology is twisted and twined together with singular visions of how Mymnir’s and the Fae’s nature and magic expresses itself: shape-shifters, magic-users who claim their due in blood and flesh, enchanted gems and jewelry, a woman with skin that carries the marks of her past, children abandoned and stolen, lovers betrayed and murdered…
The stories follow Mymnir and the Fae through the ages, from the distant past into our own time, and towards the end of the book, the white raven, the Fae queen – lost for many years – appears in our present day and brings new destruction down upon the world, as some of her Fae descendents try to stop her.
Midnight and Moonshine is a fantastic read, a highly recommended collection of uniquely imagined fantasy tales, with prose that is a joy to read.
She is Mymnir still, will always be.
Raven, woman, memory.
From ‘Seven Sleepers’, Midnight and Moonshine.