Magic meets the mundane in ‘Fontainebleau’



Madeline Sonik, 204 pgs, Anvil Press,, $20

This collection of intertwining short stories have one thing in common: Fontainebleau, a fictional town enveloped in misfortune, and the backdrop to dark events that are gripping and disturbing. Madeline Sonik lets us dip into the lives of her distinctive and tragic characters, perfectly rendering the mysterious and lamentable story of Fontainebleau through fractured, intertwined narratives. A young man on the run hopes to disappear into the bustling streets of Toronto. A murderous genius dreams of flight. A girl lives with a mermaid tail.

Each of these lives are dramatically different, and each vignette is refreshing, ranging from dark comedy to personal tragedy to kidnappings. These stories are detailed and perfectly controlled, each providing you with one more piece of the picture. Sonik’s worldbuilding is practiced, but accessible enough to be satisfying rather than frustrating.

One of the most compelling aspects of the book is the use of supernatural elements. Sonik uses strange happenings in a subtle, effective way that’s not frequently seen in the horror and mystery genre, which tends to be more blatant. This book manages to keep it elusive even in events that blatantly involve magical influence. This creates a new layer to the stories and allows you to look at the town from different angles, see it from the inside out, and get a clearer view of Fontainebleau in all its cursed, foreboding glory.