Bird Song: A Novella

Title: Bird Song: A Novella
ISBN: Print: 978-1-927685-35-8; ebook: 978-1-927685-36-5
Author: Clara Hume
Publication date: November 4, 2020
Category: Fiction/novella
Order Print: Bookshop, IndieBound, or direct from Dragonfly Publishing
Order e-book: Smashwords
Review copy: Order a free digital copy here

Bird Song: A Novella is a genre-blurring tale of a young woman who awakes on an isolated island whose few residents, two Sirens and a mysterious ship-wrecked sailor, reveal the paradoxes of her modern world and the decisions she must make to find a direction in life. This 134-page  story re-imagines Greek mythology in a contemporary but ecologically weird parable with magical realism at its core.


Bird Song is a contemporary mythological tale, a fable for adults written with an intense and musical language, rich in assonances and alliterations, an essential language that makes it clear how intense the art of writing can be and how it does not need twists and turns, rotation and suspense if the depth of the story has an intrinsic strength.

-Emanuela Chiriacò, ZEST Letteratura Sostenibile

Clara Hume’s novella Bird Song draws you into a dream-world whose chorus lures you—like the sirens themselves—into a seductive dance of paradox and choice. Taking its cue from Homer’s Odyssey, this contemporary allegorical tale follows the journey of young Thelsie—a schoolgirl in the rough poor district of east Chicago struggling with life-choices. One morning she wakes on a beach of a paradise-like magical island. Feeling safe for the first time, she meets two siren sisters who lure and crash sailing ships to save their world from corruption and despoilment by settlers wishing only to conquer Nature. When the island’s paradoxes force her to make difficult and risky choices, Thelsie finds her voice and her path in life. Bird Song teases apart the extreme voices of mono-cultural colonialism and uncompromising protectionism to find the connective tissue of compassion in the voice of mediation. A beautiful and seductive coming-of-age fairy tale of self-discovery.

—Nina Munteanu, author of A Diary in the Age of Water

Bird Song weaves mythology into our present reality, juxtaposing waves of mythic cerulean sea with a snowy winter’s day in the Windy City, where Thelsie lives with an alcoholic uncle. The fluency of her exit strategy in this opening scene carefully lands us on an Ali-Smith-esque beach, possibly in Heaven. But this novel satisfyingly dives into the other world, replete with untouched olive trees, cypress, oaks, alien looking plants and wildflowers.

Hearing a voice that reminds Thelsie of her mama’s choir singing, she wanders inland to meet the locals. An appreciation for the natural world pervades the island of past and future, rich in prickly grass, ferns, and ancient Greek speaking characters. If looks can kill, you can imagine what sounds can do. Sirens struggle to protect the environment from man, tied to the mast, and ship, dashed about on the rocks.

But that’s the joy of it, to see the metaphor of industry undone by its own gluttony and cursed pretension. This book gives me hope that humans can overcome their greed and protect the environment. Bird Song’s timely critique and uncluttered horizons liberate the mind: truly a pleasure to read.

Christine Wambui, freelance writer, Kenya

The book cover’s art is copyright by Patrimonio, and the publisher has unlimited print run rights through Can Stock Photo.