We're in the realm of myth and magic today, with a novel based on the great epic Beowulf and a novella inspired by a Japanese folk tale. Both books have covers that are among the most beautiful of the season. (Calumet Editions) “Sister of Grendel”: by Susan Thurston (Calumet Editions, $18.99 paperback). I want to save something sacred and dear within each of us, and especially within Grendel. But I do not make the leap toward a different outcome. All it would take is a simple turn of thought, in one breath. Something to make the murders end and reverse Beowulf's fate, and pull from his reach the elevation of hero. Turn him into nothing but a visitor. Someone without a place in myth or legend. Definitely not a future king of the Geats with a name still remembered. — From “Sister of Grendel” Susan Thurston (Calumet Editions) Susan Thurston, who lives in St. Paul, makes her fiction debut in this lush reimagining of the tale of Grendel, from the ancient epic Beowulf, by giving Grendel a sister, Rehsotis. It isn't necessary to know the story of how Grendel and his mother were killed by the hero Beowulf because this novel can be read as a beautifully written story, winner of a 2023 Midwest Independent Publishers Association award. But it helps if you do a little background reading before becoming absorbed in “Sister of Grendel,” set in a perfectly realized world of dreams and emotions. In Beowulf, Grendel and his mother, Yenheth, are depicted as frightening monsters. Grendel hacks off his enemy's limbs and heads and eats some of his victims. Rehsotis tells a different story, of a happy childhood in which she and her brother roamed their mother's labyrinth. Grendel is not an ogre but a happy young man who soaks up knowledge and their mother is the tribe's leader. They are members of the tall, strong tribe of Anathians, who possess language and live close to the spiritual world. Rehsotis, for instance, can inhabit the dreams of others so she can learn about their fears and joys. […]
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