Mike Russell’s Strange Medicine collection is well named. It is a weird and wonderful collection that manages to be at once heart-warming and unsettling.
Throughout the stories, and their exploration of themes as deep and delicate as self-perception, grief and sanity – Russell adeptly manages to walk the line between the uncanny and the implausible to create worlds and world-views that are believable non-realities similar to our own. But while these stories are indeed strange, they are also aptly grouped as medicine, as so much of the collection involves healing. Many writers create weird fiction, but few manage to imbue it with heart in this way. Special highlights include ‘Seventy-Two Bricks’, in which supernatural building material challenges notions of connectedness, the moving account of the lasting power of grief in ‘Mr Dennis and the Universe’, and the quirky toying with ideas of rationality in the fablesque ‘Mime’ and ‘Brain’, in which the hypothetical offends and assaults those who are adamant that the world should make perfect sense.
Russell has some great ideas that make for a fun collection. Strange Medicine is definitely worth picking up for fans of weird fiction, and I look forward to seeing more from Mike Russell in the future.
(This review was written in exchange for a free copy of the ebook)