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Moss Witch and Other Stories

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  68 ratings  ·  14 reviews
A bryologist enters an ancient piece of British woodland to research a rare strain of moss, only to discover an even more exotic specimen; a geologist explains the failures of the feminist movement to her teenage niece in terms of tectonic subduction; two Old Testament newlyweds scheme to make the most of their tightly negotiated dowry by applying 21st-century genetic engi ...more
Paperback, 232 pages
Published September 26th 2013 by Comma Press (first published April 1st 2013)
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3.57  · 
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 ·  68 ratings  ·  14 reviews

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(3.5) These fourteen short stories inspired by scientific developments – both past and present – blend hypotheses and superstitions, biography and magic realism. Each tale is followed by an afterword from an expert in the relevant field.

The first story, “Her Bonxie Boy,” and the title story are the best examples of how Maitland combines contemporary science and timeless fairy tale magic. In the former, Helen, a seabird specialist, tracks skuas from the Isle of Lewis to Africa using GPS technolog
This collection had an interesting premise and it was cool to learn about different scientific theories after each short story... However the stories did feel a little forced to fit at times, especially when the characters would suddenly go off into complex-ish technical talk for what seems like little reason!
Jun 28, 2014 rated it liked it
The idea behind this collection is fascinating. Trying to marry up story and science is a worthy endeavour. However some of the connections are rather tenuous and the comments by consulting scientists didn't really give me new insights. That said I loved the first story Her Bonxie Boy
Lisa Fransson
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
The Fairytales in Moss Witch are paired with pieces of scientific essays written by experts within their field, and although it's an interesting concept it did not quite work for me. I felt that most of the fairytales had been moulded to fit to a particular scientific theory, and the felt forced. There was too much exposition in dialogue and the stories did not ebb and flow naturally. Her Bronxie Boy was beautiful and the one about the twins was also magical, but the rest just did not stand up o ...more
Nov 27, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm just not a short stories person; some of these were amazing but I couldn't quite get into any of them particularly except the very last, Dark Humour, which was incredible.
Mark Griffiths
Aug 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Moss Witch was great. Mot sure about the rest.
Ghost of a Rose
The 5-star rating system doesn't work well for me. I prefer to use my own 6-star system. This book rates 6 stars: loved it, outstanding, very special, shortlisted favorite.
Mar 31, 2015 marked it as lost-interest-in
Shelves: short-stories
I'm a bit sad to be giving up on this one as the concept is really intriguing. Each story in the collection is inspired by a scientific theory or concept and each one is followed by an essay by a scientist from that field.

However, the science and the stories never quite marry. Too often, two characters have a conversation about that theory or one character explains the theory at length to another: I would have liked to see the concepts more integrated, to have become organically part of the fabr
Oct 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Moss Witch is a collection of stories inspired by discussions with scientists in several different fields, from Geology and Anthropology to Physics, Genetics, and Astronomy ... and of course, Bryology. Maitland chooses her genre for each so that fairy tales and creation myths rub shoulders with folktales and flat out horror. And it all works like a charm. The stories are enchanting, illuminating, and sometimes frightening (as you expect from an author known for her deep understanding of fairy ta ...more
Sergio  Mori
Aug 05, 2014 rated it liked it
When I read the first story ('Her Bonxie Boy'), both my brain and my heart exploded in excitement. I was so happy to see the Sara Maitland of 'Far North', with her tender folk imagination full of blood and guts. However, the rest of the stories never really reach that standard. Or so I thought, until BOOM! I reached 'The Beautiful Equation', which blew me away again. 'Moss Witch' also stands out. I guess the ones I like the most are the ones that ooze folklore, but the stories where science tips ...more
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I think these stories need to be taken as a whole from the story and the context from the consulting scientist. As a short story collection by themselves, then yeh it may sometimes seem tedious like lots of reviews say but she needs to give you a little bit of context when talking about matter and antimatter etc for the story to make any sense. I loved it. I thought she did something really special here and she made me read up on some areas that I'm not well versed in.
Roger Boyle
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding! If I could give 6 stars I would.

Maitland writes very well and that's a good start. There is no "sameness" between any pair of stories so the ingredients are good to begin with.

But her triumph is wining proper science and feminism in each one of them, and if there's any doubt about veracity it's dispelled by a postscript from a high-ranking practising scientist in each chosen area. Blimey, she must have learned a lot in doing this.

Aug 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories
Unfortunately I liked the afterwords from the academics more than the actual stories. You may like this book if you enjoy Pippa Goldschmidt and Tania Hershman's work.
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Sara Maitland is a British writer and academic. An accomplished novelist, she is also known for her short stories. Her work has a magic realist tendency. Maitland is regarded as one of those at the vanguard of the 1970s feminist movement, and is often described as a feminist writer. She is a Roman Catholic, and religion is another theme in much of her work.