We are mesmerized, enthralled. A young, armless girl, tangled in the brutal arrowhead wire of glistening ivy, stares with dead eyes. If I had arms, I would embrace my shaking body. I would lift my hands to my face, cover my eyes, hold the aching scream in my mouth.
Combining Wiccan ritual magic, Gnosticism, alchemy and of course Madeline Sonik's dazzling writing and storytelling, this magic-realist novella relates the story of a young woman who loses her arms in a freak home-accident and embarks on a quest for them in an absurdly complex and callous world. Sonik's gripping prose leads us through new but eerily familiar surroundings as the heroine follows an extraordinary path of enchantment, marriage, agony, ridicule, ritual and self-realization.
Arms is both a work of fiction and a magical text of healing, and as such is the first work of its kind to be published in North America. It was written, originally, as a black cord dissertation for the 13th House Mystery School and as a transformational incantation to assist those who read it in the recovery and rebirth of the creative imagination. Arms is a rare story with a powerful fairy-tale, classical element that will prevent it from escaping the reader's mind and will coax re-reading for even the squeamish and the skeptical.
Madeline Sonik is an award-winning and eclectic writer, anthologist, and teacher, who lives in Victoria, British Columbia. Her books include a novel, Arms; short fiction, Drying the Bones; a children's novel, Belinda and the Dustbunnys; two poetry collections, Stone Sightings and The Book of Changes. Her volume of personal essays, Afflictions & Departures, was nominated for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, was a finalist for the Charles Taylor Prize, and won the 2012 City of Victoria Butler Book Prize.
Amazon.com/Chapters First Novel Award 2002, Runner-up
Arms, is a verbal heartache, a bravura performance of language and performance of language and perverse imagination . .. The power of the book is unstoppable, largely because of the amazing imagery and manipulation of language . .. The metaphorical quality of the novel dances between the magical and the realistic in an exquisite pairing . .. Sonik's voice is unusual and absolutely compelling . .. what a journey!
--Candace Fertile, Globe and Mail
Arms is a strange, surreal, magical story about a girl whose arms are amputated by flying shingles when her home actually explodes because of the emotional volatility of her parents . .. extremely memorable.
--W. P. Kinsella, Books in Canada
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