Martin Kobel specialises in helping people. That’s his job, as a therapist, people in need come to him and he helps them. And when he bumps into Annabelle Young at a cafe he sees in her someone he can help. But she hasn’t asked him for help, he passes her his card, hoping that will prompt her to ask for assistance. That doesn’t work. And she is a teacher, her trouble could easily damage a whole class of young impressionable children. He has to do something.
Hanna is sixteen years old. She lives with her father in the woods in isolated Finland. And when we first meet her she is stalking a deer through the snow, shooting it with a bow and arrow before finishing the injured animal off with her knife. To say she hasn’t had the most normal of upbringings is not an exaggeration. Her father has trained her to survive, to adapt, fight, and to kill. Now that she is growing up she wants more. She wants to experience the rest of the world. But to do so she must first help kill her father’s old enemy.
The unnamed central character of this short story finds himself suddenly craving blood. He can’t understand it, he is a normal person, a normal man, why on earth is this happening to him. He tries to rationalise it, maybe he has an iron deficiency? Or maybe it is a totally misdirected sex-drive? And yet, he continues to find himself being drawn towards blood. Bloody raw steaks, the next-door neighbour’s chickens…
The forces of the Union are about to meet those of the North in battle. Over the next three days war will be waged, and men will die. Or become heroes. Or something in between. This is the story of those bloody days, the story of the men, and occasional women, on both sides who fight.
Every night Conor O’Malley has the nightmare. Every night. But tonight something is different. Tonight there is a new monster. A new nightmare. And Conor isn’t sure if this is a dream or not. But either way, this is the monster he was fearing. This monster, the yew tree, tells him that it will tell him three stories. And then Conor will tell the monster a story. A true story. And if he doesn’t, then the monster will eat him alive.