Uncommon Miracles is Julie C. Day’s debut short story collection. Day holds an MFA in Creative Writing and a M.S. in Microbiology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Her fiction has appeared in several publications, including Interzone, Black Static, and Podcastle.
From the official blurb for Uncommon Miracles:
Melding aspects of Southern Gothic and fabulism, and utilizing the author’s own scientific background, Day’s carefully rendered settings are both delightful and unexpected. Whether set in a uniquely altered version of Florida’s Space Coast or a haunted island off the coast of Maine, each story in this collection carries its own brand of meticulous and captivating weirdness.
One of the first stories I read by Julie C. Day was “One Thousand Paper Cranes” in Kaleidotrope. It’s included in this collection, and it’s a remarkable story about siblings, hope and grief, the longing for the world to change, and the visceral horror of being changed when society decides to “make you better”.
As in many of her stories, “One Thousand Paper Cranes” skillfully subverts the familiarity of everyday life with darker shades of the weird and the strange. I love the feeling I often get while reading Day’s stories, that you know the places she describes, that you might even know people like these, but you still feel as though anything could happen, or has already happened. That unsettling feeling permeates Day’s work, and it’s one of the reasons I find her stories so interesting and compelling.
The stories included in Uncommon Miracles straddle the lines between science fiction, fantasy, horror. One thing that binds them together, and sets Day’s work apart, is her characters. She creates characters that may be fragile, flawed, and troubled, but she always describes them with a clear-eyed and unsentimental sense of compassion and understanding that adds to the richness and emotional depth of her stories.
There are stories in this collection about rabbits as apocalyptic emissaries, the difficulties of building a stellar nursery at home, and about Margery who keeps her lover in a hamster cage. As you might surmise from this, you never know what or who you might encounter in a story by Day, or how the everyday world will be twisted and turned into something new, eerie, and unsettling, but then, that’s exactly what makes this collection so very good.
(Note: the beautiful cover art is “Fawn” by Tiffany Bozic.)