by Grendolyn Peach Soleil
Snow Dust and Boneshine introduces the reader to Fawna Belle Darling, the Granny Witch of old Wyoming as she navigates her fledgling magic, the love of two men and the calling of the prairie.
Here I am again in the whimsical world of Ms. Peach Soleil and what a wonderfully entertaining world it is too. If you are a fan of romantic folktale magic mash-ups, then you are in for a real treat with Snow Dust and Boneshine.
Unlike Ms. Peach Soleil’s earlier novel, The Mermaids Melt at Dawn*, which was a loosely connected series of short stories, Snow Dust and Boneshine, is one, fairly linear narrative that is deceptively well-constructed and fabulously written. There is a maturity to the prose, some achingly profound insights and a seam of ripe sensuousness that flows through the words. The little idiosyncratic synonyms that Ms. Peach Soleil scatters throughout are so sweet and yet so perceptive it leaves you baffled as to why they have not been used before.
The pace is breezy, effortlessly sweeping the reader along and into the quirky, captivating realm of Fawna Belle, the Granny Witch. However, this is no childish fairy-tale, there are some dark issues swirling under the surface which are dragged into the light with some staggeringly beautiful and lyrical imagery.
At the heart of the book is an absorbing love story between two outsiders and it unfolds with poignant inevitability. When they meet in the dreamscape, it’s rich with metaphor and the weight of unspoken emotion. However, lost cowboy Patrick, is not the only one to love Fawna and we have the side angle involving Dezi Ketchum (cracking name), which is a slow-burn and will obviously feature in further Chronicles that I shall not hesitate to read.
I loved the way the story and chapters are structured by using the framework of the monthly moons and recurring motifs such as the bluebirds. It not only places emphasis on the creative processes of the natural world but also enhances Fawna’s alchemy and the mystical vibe of the book.
All characters, even fairly minor ones such as Amaryllis Black, are so textured. It’s very easy in a book of this genre to fall back on folksy/hippie tropes but there is a distinct, realistic individuality and, within the remit of the story, all are credible, rounded beings with some lovely characteristics. In parts, Snow Dust and Boneshine, reads like a family drama albeit overlaid with a broad, supernatural brushstroke. However, Ms. Peach Soleil always keeps in mind the plot and momentum is maintained whilst couched in the gorgeously imaginative writing. Fawna manages to be both enigmatic and driven; her single-mindedness in carrying forward the folk magic of her ancestors is believably intriguing.
Snow Dust and Boneshine is a beautifully written, spellbinding little novel from a skilled and original storyteller. Highly recommended.
*You can read my review of The Mermaids Melt at Dawn here