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Review: Secrets of a Fire King, Kim Edwards

April 20, 2011

I am not one who normally invests time in short stories. It is not that I dislike them, more that I find them unsatisfying. I get involved and dedicated to an idea and find it cut short. This is expected as it is the intent of the medium.

A result of this is that I either avoid them completely, or read them, and feel that my opinion is not a fair reflection of the work. So I rarely write reviews of collections like this.

This stated, Kim Edwards’ collection of shorts ‘The Secrets of a Fire King’ was excellent.

Thirteen vignettes are carried here, and for the most part, each was impressive. They are almost elusive amorphous fables, each having a lesson to learn from, but requiring interpretation. Most center around personal evolution, both emotional and spiritual, but none are heavy handed enough to just say “this novel is about XX”.

Folks who read this should be made aware that much of the work is darker than her other writings. Many of the tales have an undercurrent of tragic humanity that is gripping. This is no “Memory Keeper’s Daughter”.

One of the stories here stands out every time I think about it. The third story, ‘A Gleaming in the Darkness’ is my favorite. The story centers around a cleaning woman in a scientific laboratory. She is uneducated and obsessively idolizes the woman who runs the lab, Marie Curie. She wanders the lab and fiddles with jars and ampoules that glow beautifully in the darkness of the lab.

The second favorite was the title story ‘Secrets of a Fire King’. With out going into too much detail, it was fairly amazing. It details the love triangle between a man, woman, and boy who are in a traveling side show.

This collection is well worth picking up. Surprisingly, it is commonly found in stacks of discount books at Borders and other stores, so you may be able to get it very cheap. This is not a reflection of the authors work, instead Penguin Publishing’s failure to properly market this remarkable book. I do not know what they put into play during the marketing of this, but it obviously was not enough or was completely approached wrong.

  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) (2007)
  • ISBN-10: 9780143112303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143112303

Jason –


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