A woman who doesn't like kids sits on an aircraft, preparing to go on a journey. The flight attendant brings a child traveling alone to take the seat beside her. The woman is none too happy about this turn of events and studiously tries to ignore the little girl. For the most part it seems to be working until the plane hits some major turbulence. Just as it seems the plane is about to crash, the woman is transported into a world that she has dreamed about many times before. The little girl along with another older woman named Rose and her dog are there as well. Rose sends the woman and girl on a fantastical journey to find a stolen amethyst egg. Whether or not they succeed in their mission will ultimately determine their fate and may also teach them a few things about themselves in the process.
The Stone Witch is a very unique and imaginative short story that follows the two protagonists, who remain unnamed until the final page. One is a woman, who has never liked kids and doesn't really want any of her own. The other is a little girl whose background unfolds with the story. The pair meet on a airplane when the flight attendant seats the little girl next to the woman, who tries to ignore her. From there things become pretty surreal, for just as it seems the plane is about to crash, the two are transported into a world of which the woman has dreamed many times before. This time, however, there are others in the dream with her. The woman, it seems, has some untapped witchy potential, and she and the girl must go on a quest to find an amethyst egg. The success or failure of their mission will ultimately determine their fate.
This was a rather odd little story but in a good way. The woman's initial attitude toward kids is amusing, while the dialogue and pacing are snappy. I was fully engaged, wanting to find out what would happen next, because I was never quite certain if the events were actually happening to the woman or if she was simply dreaming them. Given the brevity of the story, The Stone Witch has a surprising amount of character development for both protagonists. I've read full-length novels that didn't dig this deeply. Also, a surprising amount happens in such a short space of time, so things are always moving along at a pretty good clip. Overall, I really enjoyed this first foray into Isobelle Carmody's work and look forward to checking out more titles from her backlist. The Stone Witch can be found in the anthology Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron.
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