Magazine article World Literature Today

Vessel and Solsvart

Magazine article World Literature Today

Vessel and Solsvart

Article excerpt

Berit Ellingsen. Vessel and Solsvart. Sacramento, California. Snuggly Books. 2017. 110 pages.

Vessel and Solsvart is a collection of five short stories, all dark fantasies dealing with the fine line between life and death. Norwegian author Berit Ellingsen's writing is inspired by Scandinavian folktales and the work of H. C. Andersen, but her stories are much more sinister and menacing than these other tales.

The title story, "Vessel and Solsvart," is the most interesting and well written in the collection. Two humanlike creatures wake up from what has been a long sleep in the middle of a lush and green landscape. Ellingsen's ability to place us in the midst of this dark fantasy world with her vivid descriptions is the most remarkable feature of her writing: "The new heat reaches us from the seeping marsh, the lichen-veiled trees, and our soft bedding of moist sphagnum moss."

Vessel and Solsvart, the main zombielike characters, appear to be some version of the walking dead, with milky eyes, missing fingers, and rotting hair. They complain that the sun is too hot, and it seems that they are searching for a way to keep from being consumed by it. They go on a bizarre journey, sometimes on foot and sometimes in their decrepit rowboat, and encounter strange towns that are completely deserted. They come upon peculiar places like the City of Trees and the City of Reeds. The story has a melancholy, eerie feeling to it as we are never quite sure of their final destination or if their bodies will decay to the point of not being able to carry them any further. …

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