REVIEW: “The Watchers” by Shelly Jones

Review of Shelly Jones, “The Watchers”, Luna Station Quarterly 31: Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

The telling of this story has a fairy-tale like quality. No one is named. It is the man, and the woman, and his mother, and her grandfather, and the baker, and the other people of the town. But the story does not involve any of the standard fairy tale tropes; it is, instead, entirely of itself.

The title of the story is not especially explanatory, and even 3/4 of the way in, it is not at all clear who the watchers are. Sometimes, though, reading Jones’s detailed and precise prose — such as the following:

The single bee squatted there, its wings pressed back taut against its body. He could feel each of its legs, thin wisps of muscle, begin to give way as the bee slowly crawled up his leg. It moved methodically, each leg stepping in syncopated intervals, up his thigh and past his waist to his belly.

— one feels like it is the reader themself who is watching.

From start to finish, I had no idea where this story was going or where it would end up. I would love to hear it told aloud, around a flickering campfire on a dark night.