REVIEW: “Bone Song” by Aja McCullough

Review of Aja McCullough, “Bone Song”, Apex Magazine 116 (2019): Read Online. Reviewed by Joanna Z. Weston.

Featuring a miller, a dead woman, and a macabre violin, this story has all the pieces of a dark fairy tale. In fact, I recognized aspects of “The Two Sisters,” a murderous folk song with many variants. However, picking up on that reference is not necessary to enjoy the story.

Bone Song” packs a surprising amount of heartbreak into less than 800 words, but also a lot of beauty. The crux of this story is communication – what the dead woman wants to say from beyond the grave, and what the miller hears, and the vast chasm between the two. It’s a subtle story, as is befitting its brevity.