This little novella beings with a robbery in a bank, except it’s not the money that the thief is after. He takes an item of sentimental value from each person, and in doing so claims he takes 51% of each of their souls with him. He warns them that this will have strange and bizarre consequences on their lives, and they’ll have to learn to grow their souls back, or die. The consequences are indeed bizarre: one woman’s tattoo lion comes to life, another turns to candy, and one woman’s husband turns into a snowman. The main story is told by Stacey’s husband, as they realise she is gradually, then rapidly, shrinking (in proportion to triangular numbers). They have to work out if and how they can stop it, before she shrinks away to nothing.
I love this book as an object; a thing in itself. As it’s a very small book, there’s no dust jacket and the cover is printed straight onto the hard back. That, and the scattering of silhouette illustrations throughout, makes it feel like a childhood, fairy tale book, putting you in the right mood for reading it. It’s the sort of quick magical realism that’s easy to read and can be taken as pure entertainment. But it’s also a fable just like those Grimm books from childhood. It’s about some people facing adversity and finding a way through by realising what’s important or putting the work into their relationships. It’s also about how some people don’t or can’t. It’s magic and strangeness and horror and beauty.
At a very short 88 pages, it’s probably somewhere between a short story and novella, but it feels the right length. Perfectly formed in writing and production.
Here’s a lovely little video trailer which gives you an idea of the shadow puppet style of the illustrations: