Review of Kali Wallace, “Her Cage of Root and Bone”, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue 301 (April 9, 2020): listen online. Reviewed by Richard Lohmeyer.
This is a striking portrait of two bitterly angry sisters. Nell is the ruler of the land, known by many titles, including (ironically, from her sister’s point of view) Queen of Peace and The Warrior Who Has Ended War. What she has not ended, and clearly has no desire to end, is the life-long rivalry, jealousy, and hatred that exists between twin sister Lottie and herself. Nell has magically imprisoned her twin in “a tower set upon rock in the center of a mountain river . . . and the chains that bind me are living wood, growing from my ankles and feet into roots below, from my hands into the branches wending through walls, from my hair into the crown above.” It’s a striking image and apt metaphor for the rage that has long imprisoned both sisters. Though Lottie has clearly gotten the worst of it, having been physically and psychologically tortured for years, it’s hard to believe she wouldn’t have done the same to Nell had the situation been reversed. It’s an all-consuming fury on the part of both sisters, perhaps the only thing that gives life meaning for either of them.