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Vacui Magia

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  45 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Dwarves and golems, Fates and minotaurs, metamorphoses, murder, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. L.S. Johnson delivers a provocative and original short story collection that ingeniously blends myth and nightmare. Whether it concerns an infertile witch constructing a golem-baby, a daughter struggling to understand her mother’s supernatural infidelities, or a cafeteria worker form ...more
Kindle Edition, 226 pages
Published March 1st 2016 by Traversing Z Press
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4.27  · 
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 ·  45 ratings  ·  25 reviews

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Vacui Magia is latin for Magic Void and is an anthology of short stories written by L.S. Johnson.

If you've read "Hawkworth Hall" or "Leviathan" you'll know Johnson writes horror by poetry and is able to spin a pretty darn dark tale. Vacui Magia is no exception.

The anthology holds eight short stories, all of differing lengths and completely different subject matter. They're all effectual in being creepy and impactful in a disturbing way. All are high quality writings.

I particularly liked three s
Riju Ganguly
Dec 17, 2018 rated it liked it
A rather strange collection of haunting imagery, lyrical prose, and questionable endings. Perhaps admirers of fantasies with a marked preference for smoke and mirrors would gulp all of them. Poor am I, brought up on Howard I couldn't appreciate the finer nuances that much. My bad.
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This gemlike collection of short stories made me think by turns of Angela Carter's fairy tales, Clive Barker's Books of Blood, and even Neil Gaiman's American Gods, particularly in the story "Clotho." While Vacui Magia is fascinated with the feminine mysteries of growing up, growing ripe, and conception, it also examines feminine rage in all its facets.

It's hard to choose a favorite. I heard the author read "This is How You Lose Yourself" at FogCon and it is just as breathtaking in text. The tit
La La
Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 on my blog. Some of the stories were stellar with solid endings, some were wonderful with endings that were incomplete by a paragraph, or two (which is a lot for a short story), and one or two of the offerings were only marginally good.

I read this for Halloween ambiance and it rose to the challenge successfully. Some people have it listed as Horror, but I felt that it was more Fantasy/Paranormal and not Horror at all.

I was approved for an eARC, via Netgalley, in return for and honest review.
David  V.M.
Mar 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The last collection of short-fiction I read was a Best of Lovecraft anthology. And before that. The Three Moments of an Explosion by China Mieville. So I thought I was quite prepared to take a stab at this little collection.

I wasn’t, really. This was a side of weird-fiction I hadn’t really encountered before.

It was like Christmas (or shall we say, Cthulhumas) came early, honestly.

There are a lot of elements of magic-realism here but it never gets too artsy for its own sake. It never pushes into
Annemieke / A Dance with Books
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, 4-star, fantasy
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Vacui Magia is a collection of short stories that all have a magical element weaved throughout them. From how to create a golem to taking revenge. Each story is dark. Some are violent. Some are sensual. And you never quite know what is real.

In some cases I feel that they were beautifully executed, and did really make me think about what I had just read. But others felt rather confusing, and I had a h
Small but impressive collection of dark fantasy stories, most featuring a mythological or folk tale basis cleverly interwoven into a realistic contemporary or historical setting.

Rage, pain, and abiding grief are the drivers behind these tales (there's very little joy, although hope occasionally makes an appearance) but Johnson is rarely heavy-handed drawing these emotions: the stories are dark but they're not gory or even particularly violent, there's nothing gratuitous here. The narratives mov
Bill Hsu
Jan 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Really enjoying this so far, with the range of voices and narrative approaches in just the first three stories.

"The Pursuit of the Whole is called Love" is gloriously Tiptree-like in its play with language, messy sex and general wet stickiness. Maybe a tad long for its material, but I'll remember this one for awhile.

Update: most of the other stories are unfortunately more conventional (and not as well-crafted). "Clotho" has an oblique charm though.
S.L. Saboviec
I loved these stories. They were melancholy and weird, rich and thought-provoking. The world-building was well-constructed. I hate giving praise in the negative, but I can't think of a better way to say this: none of them were built on clichés or tired tropes.

A couple stories in the the middle had endings that made me scratch my head, but I think that's on me, not the author. The rest left me breathless, and they all seemed to be saying SOMETHING (even if, like those two, I didn't know what that
Jul 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Absolutely fantastic. There is not a single story in this collection that is not worthy of praise. Myths and common fantasy elements are woven together to create something that is horrific and yet somehow beautiful, like a macabre painting that you cannot look away from. Even if short stories do not interest you, the ones in this book will.

Huge thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this book.
Joy Pixley
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These are brilliant! I had the same "wow" reaction to the first one as I do to the best stories in Fantasy & Science Fiction. With that magazine, I have that reaction for perhaps one or two stories for each issue, but here I had it over and over. At first I thought, sure, she's just started out with the best one. Then on the next one I thought, well, she's put the best two first. I eventually gave up that reasoning: they're all excellent, at the, "Crap, I wish I could write like this," level ...more
Meg Pontecorvo
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I can see why this book was a World Fantasy Award nominee: the stories are taut, terrifying, psychologically acute, stylistically elegant, and deeply feminist, especially in their depictions of female anger. “Little Men With Knives” and “Julie” are unforgettable: shocking in the trade-offs the protagonists make for just revenge, yet the endings of both stories are also deeply, oddly satisfying.
Christi Nogle
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I learned about this collection just recently and can’t believe I missed it when it came out. Everything in here is my favorite sort of weird. I especially loved “Little Men with Knives” and “The Pursuit of the Whole Is Called Love.”
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An amazing collection of stories. Witches, golems and more to keep you intrigued. These stories take you away to another world. Anything by this author is superb.
I received this eBook from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Vacui Magia is a novel filled with dark fantasy, science fiction and horror short stories. They’re not meant to just terrify but to shock you, make you think and intrigue you.

These stories had awesome world building. The separate stories were either contemporary settings or historical settings. Each of story was entirely unique and neither one crossed over into each other. The characters were complex and interesting.

While non
Jun 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Typically in an anthology like Vacui Magia: Stories, you expect to like some stories, not like others. Because of this I rarely give anthologies a particularly high score. In this case I’m going for a 4.5. With the exception of a couple places where I couldn’t quite get all of what the author was trying to communicate, I absolutely loved this anthology. It’s dark and winding, and meant for readers who don’t mind thinking a bit about what they’re reading. (That sounds obvious, but sometimes peopl ...more
Sandra Lopez
Jun 27, 2016 rated it liked it
This book sounded interesting when I first heard about it, but I wondered what vacui magia meant. It sounded Italian or Greek.

A collection of short stories, Vacui Magia, explores myth and nightmare in a fantasy sense.

In “Little Men with Knives,” a bored cafeteria lady that is “too old to work and too poor to quit” finds solace and envy in little dwarves that appear at night. “Like stray cats. Stray cats that do housework. My craziness in a nutshell…As nasty as they are, I doubt any of them lie
Jun 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
The stories of 'Vacui Magia: Stories' are full of suspence. The reader is never sure of what is the truth, and what is madness - there is always a hint that things are completely different from that what is written.

A book full of short stories is always difficult to rate. Two of the stories (the third and the fourth) were not all to my taste. I decided not to let those influence my rating, since I simply loved the rest of the stories, and the characters and writing style throughout those other s
Shari Sakurai
Mar 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
*I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review *

Vacui Magia: Stories is a collection of magical and supernatural themed short stories.

Each tale is very different and all are extremely well-written. The atmosphere of the tales is dark, with plenty of suspense, twists and turns. The characters are written in a way that you are on occasion doubting that what they are exposed to is real and feeling their inner conflict as they experience similar uncertainties. Each story is well-pac
Catherine Griffin
Apr 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviews
An enthralling collection of dark speculative fiction short stories.

The first thing I noticed about this short story collection was that the writing was extremely good. The second was that although the material is definitely on the dark side, all the stories are engaging, satisfying, and thought-provoking. The protagonists are female, and the eight stories range through urban fantasy, historical fantasy, science fiction(?), and just weird. Chances are readers will like some more than others, but
Mar 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A collection of L.S. Johnson's work is an embarrassment of riches. She is currently my favourite writer of short fiction. She's the kind of writer whose work you just have to track down wherever it appears. Don't be put off by the fact that the author published this herself, as most of these stories have already appeared in some high profile places, such as Strange Tales, Strange Horizons, and Crossed Genres Magazine. Most of these stories are so good they left me with my mouth hanging open. How ...more
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this collection. L.S. Johnson uses evocative imagery to tell stories (largely about the struggles of women) that will linger on the fringes of your memory long after you've closed the book and walked away. If you aren't already familiar with L.S.'s work, this is the perfect introduction to its dark, lush, beauty.

Read it. You won't regret it.

Full disclosure: I published two of the stories in this collection (one as a reprint).
Scott Moules
May 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing

L.S. Johnson's debut collection of speculative fiction stories is pure literary enjoyment. A deft hand creates worlds in which reality and its linings are cleverly inverted and reimagined. These are worlds where our heroes are burdened and looking for freedom, despite the costs, and their search are the trajectories Johnson so expertly lays out for us to devour and savor. Many of these stories will stick with you, after your done, and that lingering makes it all worth it.
Osbian Night
Jun 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Brilliantly written stories. Not usually into speculative fiction other than magical fantasy and I normally hate short stories but these were really good. It was interesting how Johnson drew from mythology and folklore in some of the stories, even played with what was real and what wasn't.
Jun 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Quirky, Fun, Haunting, Awesome. A well written series of stories, all unique but consistent in overall theme.
Ronald L Greenwell
rated it really liked it
Jul 06, 2018
Claire Owen
rated it it was amazing
Jan 17, 2019
David Michael Peddigree
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Jul 08, 2018
carol anne Jeffries
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Dec 24, 2018
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Mar 20, 2018
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Kindle Unlimited ...: Vacui Magia: Stories by LS Johnson 1 8 Apr 10, 2016 09:36AM