A Review of Witches in the Tinderbox: The Succubus Realm by Richard Mikolitch

Witches in the Tinderbox: The Succubus Realm by Richard Mikolitch

Witches in the Tinderbox: The Succubus Realm by Richard Mikolitch

There are some stories that read as being scattered in their focus, the meaning within them. It can be a difficult read trying to come to terms with this, trying to understand what’s going on. This doesn’t always happen, the meaning can be submerged within the telling, the characters, the scenes themselves.

Perhaps where things turn can be held to the imagery used, the tone taken. Myths have their own stories to tell, sometimes they aren’t supposed to be easy to follow, to parse, to come to terms with. But then, not all stories are meant to have a happy ending, or an ending itself to be found.

The book summary is quite odd:

I read of a fair maiden who went fishing with her father and when along the brook she saw a toad. This toad was more beautiful than the rest of the toads and she asked her father if they might catch it and keep it.

The father, knowing they would never be able to catch this fast creature in his own habitat told the daughter if she could catch it she could keep it.

Once a week, after church the two would go to the brook and while the father caught dinner, the girl sat dreaming of the toad.

She would often go to where she had seen the toad before and when she spotted him she would shy away from going after him.

Weeks past and the toad became lonely for company and soon became bold enough to approach the girl who he had noticed spying on him from a distance.

The girl looked at her father and smiled for the toad came right up to her and sat on her foot. The girl lifted up her shoe and took the toad in her hands.

She petted it laughed at it and took it home to play with.

But as happy as the girl was to have the toad she became bored with it and soon forgot about it in her room.

The toad who had given up his toad life to live in a house with a person became sad and wished he had never approached her by the brook.

The toad missed his simple pond and his toad friends who told him he didn’t belong in a large house where everything was given to him. He belonged in the brook where he had to work to catch bugs to eat.

The father came to the girl’s room and saw the toad sitting in the fishbowl as if it were dead. He brought it a fly to eat but the toad didn’t move for the toad became very fat from being given everything instead of earning it.

The father knew the toad needed to return to the brook but he also knew it would break his daughter’s heart to lose the toad.

While he stood looking at the toad the daughter came in and she looked at her father with sad eyes and asked him what was wrong with the toad. She asked did he need the vet or maybe some medicine?

He explained to her that the toad needed to be a toad. She looked at him with quizzical eyes and told her father that he was indeed a toad.

His father told her that looks could be very deceiving.

He may look like a toad; have legs and arms like a toad and a body that can both swim and live on land, but he is loosing the heart of a toad and without a heart nobody is who they appear. The father told his daughter if she loved him she would bring him back to the brook and when the father proposed this the toad although not knowing the language of people heard his words and hoped to God that the little girl agreed.

The girl asked the father if she would ever see him again and the father told he couldn’t say but encouraged her to do the right thing regardless of what she felt.

He told her that she, one day will be wed and while his heart wants to keep her forever, because he loved her so much he would accept what makes her happy.

The girl took the fishbowl off the shelf and removed the toad.

She and her father took the buggy to the brook and released the toad.

They watched the toad swim across the pond and toward the other toads.

She anticipated him to be welcomed but instead they seemed to reject him.

He tried to play toad games and even gave mosquito larva for them to snack on but the more he tried the more they rejected him.

The girl cried for she knew her desire to control the toad made him become an outcast from the brook.

The book summary isn’t so much a summary as it reads very much as an example of the writing style and tone the work has. I would suggest that a clearer summary might be: The world is many layers deep, each with mysteries, joys, losses and agonies. Our search for understanding creates a path well worn over time by we that have come before. Among our waking moments comes our dreams and within both the succubi await us, either to show the way or obscure it from our eyes.

Overall, the story is a difficult read in that there is a lot of repetitiveness. Moments are returned to, over and over again, from one perspective or another. The tone of the work, how the story is told is odd and stuttered from point to point, making the story read, as was intended I think, a series of waking dreams. There’s quite a bit of history involved, a lot of allegories encountered. Different beliefs come into play as well. It is a complex story about one character’s path through to enlightenment, but along the way the sidetracking and confusion gets in the way of the story itself.

As part of this, there are appearances of several of the most well known of the succubi, Lilith and her sisters, and that was interesting mainly for how their characters are revealed over time. There’s quite a telling moment, when the truth come out, where the mythos crashes into history and that was quite an unexpected thing. It made things turn, change direction and be something quite different than what I thought the work was going towards.

This is not a work of erotica, it’s far from being so. It is, overall, an exploration of one soul, how they came to be and what drives all else around them. It is deeply emotionally draining at times, some of the imagery is very harsh or concerning as well. The puzzle felt like it was missing several pieces and at the end of the work, that feeling of loss and helplessness was very profoundly felt.

Again, this is not an easy read, not by any means. The editing structure leaves a lot to be desired, there are a scattering of spelling mistakes here and there as well. The tone and repetitiveness becomes an issue quite quickly, and there’s a tendency to skim over parts of the work as a result. It isn’t a story about succubi themselves, but rather they being the door to something other to be found. That I thought was well done, in many ways, but my issue was that I just couldn’t quite find my way into this work.

The story is there, but it is a struggle to overcome the telling to encounter the story itself.

Three and a half out of five pitchforks.

The editing of the story, how it is told, is a bit of a struggle to manage as a whole. While that’s a literary device and it works, I felt like it shrouded the point of the work far too long. Piecing together what’s going on, who each character is and what they represent means having to read the work very carefully and not skim over the more repetitive moments that come along.

The work was billed as being the first in a series, but as of this review no further works have appeared. I’m unsure of how things would continue overall, there seems to be a close and little to move further upon.

While there is a succubus theme, there are succubus characters and there’s a fair bit of focus upon that aspect, it’s less of a story about succubi than it is a work about redemption and redeeming. One of the more unique pieces of storytelling I’ve read by far, but I just didn’t quite find my way as deeply into the work as I would have liked to.



1 comment

    • avatar
    • James on May 28, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    A work about redemption among succubi is a fascinating premise and I think, Your Majesty, qualifies as a succubus story. A pity that the execution is so poor.

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