I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.
‘This collection of short stories and poems by Ada Hoffmann traverses extraordinary universes packed with faeries, cyborgs, talking otters, punitive gods, lovestruck sea creatures, fossil hunters, extraterrestrials, and much more.
‘Each universe contains an intricately crafted history, cast of characters, places, and paradoxes.
‘From layered magical realms to beauty supply storerooms, Hoffmann brings often-overlooked characters and perspectives to life and lets their unfettered reality expand our imaginations.
‘Resurrections is a glimpse into the spectrum of human existence, flitting from world to world in Hoffmann’s spectacular style.’
Resurrections, by Ada Hoffmann, brings together a diverse range of the author’s short stories under four loose headings — Dusk, Midnight, The Small Hours, and Dawn — which they elucidate in the enlightening notes at the end of the book.
The stories are broadly speculative/sci-fi, and many of them incorporate elements of fantasy, fairy tale, and/or horror. As poetry really isn’t my area (I know I liked the poems, but I can’t articulate why!), this review will stick to the prose.
In the notes I took as I read each story, three words come up time and again: imaginative, compelling, and interesting. It blew me away how each piece had a unique premise that could only be the product of a brilliant mind, and it was so exciting to see where Hoffmann took each of these ideas.
What’s more, each piece is exquisitely written. Even though one or two stories went over my head a little, I could nonetheless very much appreciate the beauty of the writing.
I really loved, and felt inspired by, the way the author uses fantastical, inventive writing to communicate their own experiences and values.
Hoffmann is autistic, and accordingly, so are many of their characters. Not only are varying characteristics of autism represented — Back Room features two young sisters, one sensory-sensitive and the other a sensory-seeker — but so is autistic joy. We also see autistic characters living in worlds where their needs are actually considered and accommodated.
The stories under the ‘Midnight’ heading, meanwhile, convey the author’s experiences of unhealthy relationships and mental illness in dreamy, fairy tale/myth-like, and moving ways.
As with any collection of short stories, I had my particular favourites. One of these was the aforementioned Back Room, where two young sisters discover an unfeasibly large storeroom in the back of what is essentially a branch of Lush. Like my favourite story in Sertaline Dreams, by Oli Jacobs, this chimed with recurring dreams I have, and would love to wrangle into story form myself one day.
I also loved the premise behind Melting Like Metal — cyborg angels prosecuting human “heretics” who defy their AI-powered gods! — as well as its gripping execution, so I was very excited to find out that Hoffmann (a new author to me) has written three novels that take place in this universe. In fact, the first of these, The Outside was the very next book I read.
Of the more fairy tale-like stories, I especially liked Five Songs and a River, an enchanting and dreamy piece about an autistic rusalka — or is she?
The Scrape of Tooth and Bone, meanwhile, stood out to me because it’s such a brilliant mishmash of ideas — Victorian lesbian autistic spiritualist robotics engineer joining a fossil dig on another planet! — and it works so, so well.
Like the fun and cute Research Lab Electricity Usage Timesheet Reporting, in which toddler-like robots help keep an annoying boss out of a scientist’s office, The Scrape of Tooth and Bone shows Hoffmann is great at levity, as well as more serious pieces.
Resurrections is a mesmerising, inventive, and insightful collection.