Blog tour: One Eye Opened in That Other Place by Christi Nogle

One Eye Opened in That Other Place

This post is part of a blog tour organised by Random Things Blog Tours. I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

One Eye Opened in That Other Place collects Christi Nogle’s best weird and fantastical stories. The collection focuses on liminal spaces and the borders between places and states of mind.

‘Though you might not find a traditional portal fantasy here, you will travel across thresholds and arrive at other places and times that are by turns disquieting, terrifying, and wonderful.

‘Get up close with the local flora and fauna, peruse the weird art exhibits and special shows, and consider taking a dip in the mossy, snail-filled tank of water. Make sure to bring your special glasses!’

One Eye Opened in That Other Place

As the blurb suggests, the 27 short stories that make up One Eye Opened in That Other Place, by Christi Nogle, are concerned with in-between spaces and states.

In many of the pieces, characters are experiencing processes of “becoming” – and their journeys and destinations range from the subtly unsettling to the all-out horrifying.

My particular favourites among these were the interesting and imaginative Every Day’s a Party (With You), where a cosy small-town Christmas takes a thrillingly horrible turn; the intriguing and absorbing The Gods Shall Lay Sore Trouble Upon Them, where a mysterious illness causes extreme self-absorption, mind-reading powers, and gradual paralysis; and the very weird and sinister Fall Into Water, Become Someone New, which defies description, quite honestly.

Other characters – in common with some in Nogle’s previous collection, Promise – take time out from their normal lives in unconventional ways, or create unusual things.

For example, in the enchanting and thought-provoking A Chronicle of the Mole-Year, a town votes to suspend the normal laws of physics and biology for a year, thus giving its citizens a break from the everyday demands of work, school, and their bodies.

I especially loved the coming-of-age vibes of this story: while the young main character doesn’t grow older, she nonetheless becomes wiser and more introspective as she comes to consider some of the more surreal and less desirable outcomes of the arrangement.

In An Education, a character learns to imagine things into existence, including, eventually, her own double. Similarly, in Smaller Still Than Me, an artist-in-residence makes a sculpture of herself that takes on a life of its own. Both of these stories put me in mind of Maggie Stiefvater’s Dreamer Trilogy (a very good thing!).

As you might expect given the theme of liminality, quite a few of the stories in One Eye Opened in That Other Place have dream and fairy tale flavours.

Like actual dreams, the former sometimes frustrated me by ending too soon and leaving me trying to make sense of what I’d just seen. However, I did really like The Apartment, where a woman lives out her city’s dreams rather than her own, and Night, When Windows Turn to Mirror, where a woman struggles to locate her father in an ever-changing and expanding version of their house.

The fairy tale-like stories are more consistently satisfying, with my favourites including the captivating The Maiden in Robes (don’t go in Grandma’s greenhouse!), the economical Gingerbread (a woman abandons her old life for a new one in the gingerbread house), and the entertaining and bittersweet The Children of Robbie (a pair of dogs mysteriously produce three human babies).

One Eye Opened in That Other Place is an imaginative, thought-provoking, and appealingly unsettling short story collection.

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About Alice Violett

Writer of blogs and short stories, reader of books, player of board games, lover of cats, editor of web content, haver of PhD.

Colchester, UK