Magpie Tales: The Magpie Who Stole The Sun by Neil Murton

The Magpie Who Stole The Sun by Neil MurtonDisplaying both brutality and delicacy of touch, Murton demonstrates that, in life as well as art, “there’s no such thing as simple; there’s just complexity you choose to ignore.”

This collection contains 50 drabbles, chosen from those Murton has published weekly since November 2012. As well as several fine tales of the eponymous trickster and some interesting perspectives on the author’s beloved Cornwall, the selection ranges both genre and theme, providing both humorous and straight stories.

With exactly 100 words to tell a story, producing one solid drabble is an effort worthy of praise. It is a testament to Murton’s grasp of the form that this selection is but one of (currently) three collections of skilled drabble.

This grasp of the structure is especially clear in Lady of the Rye, a retelling of an ancient Slavic folk tale in free verse.

As Murton himself states in his introduction, not all the stories will resonate equally with the reader. However, with 50 stories to choose from, each reader will be sure to find something that speaks deeply to them among the domesticated cannibals, extended plays-on-words, loving parodies of genre tropes, and moments of pure humanity.

There are many complex and interesting characters in the selection. However, if the greatest focus were not on Magpie anyway he would steal it. Embracing fully the amoral heart of the trickster archetype, and wrapping him in a coat of language and stars, Murton creates a character who transcends being loved either for or despite his flaws.

I have been signed up to Murton’s mailing list since it began, so was re-reading these stories. Despite this familiarity, I enjoyed each of the stories in this collection thoroughly. I recommend it both to those who seek entertainment and those who seek an example of tight prose.

I was not asked to write this review. However, I have known the author socially for many years.


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