“The Garden” by Joanna Parypinski


I drew the two of hearts this week for My Deal Me In challenge. “Deuces are wild” this year so I went in search of a story… I just happened to have my iPad in hand when I drew my card, and it was providentially opened to my Kindle app, where I have several anthologies downloaded and “in the queue.” One of these is “Suffer the Little Children” from Cruentus Libri Press.


In February, I learned from author Joanna Parypinski’s blog that this small indie press was closing down and that its ebook titles were available for free download. I’d previously read another one of their projects, Dead Sea, which I never blogged about but did briefly review on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17565709-the-dead-sea I had enjoyed that one enough to “take a chance” (and risk a few kilobytes of memory space) on a free download, and having read some of Parypinski’s other work (e.g. Her novel, Pandora, back in 2012) I picked her short story, The Garden, for my week 25 entry…

This story is about Lily, a young and lonely girl, who learns of a spell that might help her end her loneliness. The story centers around two curious stone statues in her (recently deceased) aunt’s garden. The statues are of two “sisters” who – legend had it (“The story of the sisters was as wondrously strange as the garden where they spent their days in stone.” I really liked that opening sentence!) – were turned to stone by the witch whose garden it originally was. It seems the witch had became jealous of the girls’ gardening abilities. What the witch didn’t realize was that she was only ensuring “an eternity of togetherness” for the girls. While in the garden, Lily hears whispers. Are they from the stone sisters, or from something else – something more … malignant?

The other force at work in Lily’s life is loneliness. After visiting her deceased aunt’s house, she returns to her family’s home in the country: “There was a lot of emptiness here. Even at school with rowdy kids crowding the halls, Lily could still feel the emptiness creeping in on all sides. Her classmates didn’t seem to know it was there, but Lily did. It was all around them, encroaching in the desolate gloom of twilight.”

Lily’s isolation – and a spectral visitor – lead her to seek to “ensure some togetherness” of her own, just as she imagines the stone sisters in the garden enjoy. She gets more than she bargained for, however.

I’m not sure if this story is still available for purchase anywhere now that Cruentus Libri Press is shut down. I will do some checking and update later if I find it.

I admit that this story didn’t immediately effect me that much, but stories can leave their mark on me in different ways. The way this one did is that it led me to thinking all week about statues, and humankind’s long and sometimes curious relationship with them. In fact, I probably lost more than an hour of my life surfing the Internet reading about different statues, ancient and new. Some I was already familiar with and some were new to me. Of particular interest were stories of statues that began their lives as living beings, as did (allegedly) the stone sisters in this story. Take a moment and think about it – how many examples can you think of in literature and legend? Lot’s wife, anyone?


Another interesting – though not surprising – fact is how people often begin to think of human-shaped statues as being “real” humans, perhaps with personalities of their own, perhaps treating them with undue reverence, considering they are actually only stone, marble, bronze, or whatever. “Anthropomorphizing” isn’t exactly the right word for it, since the statues are already of people.

One of Indy’s suburbs has a Main Street that is peopled with a lot of human statues in everyday poses (like the lady with the groceries pictured below) that coexist with the town’s actual animate population. I admit that, for my part, this creeps me out a little bit. The statues, even though you KNOW they’re statues, have a way of continually tricking one’s senses. When they’re in your peripheral vision, your certainty of what is real and what is not blurs somewhat, and in a way that makes me uncomfortable. 🙂


For fun, here’s a list of the worlds “top ten statues”: http://10mosttoday.com/10-most-famous-statues-in-the-world/

Colossal statues also fascinate me. Below, the giant Toltec statues at Tula are said to walk around at night(!) Woe to anyone who steps in their path.


Frodo and friends are braver than I, camping amongst the frozen statues of giant trolls.


The tallest human statue in the world, in Volgograd, Russia. Colossal!


The iconic Statue of Liberty sometimes takes a beating in film. “Cloverfield” and “Planet of the Apes” are two memorable examples.




  1. Matt Cowan said,

    June 22, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Great review! Sounds like a good story! Thinking about statues reminds me how I always tease my wife that I’m going to get a giant Manticore statue for our front yard.


    • Jay said,

      June 22, 2014 at 3:33 pm

      Ha! Tell her you’re willing to compromise and only get a basilisk or a griffin… 🙂


  2. Stephanie said,

    June 22, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    It sounds like a pretty interesting story and an even more interesting rabbit hole it sent you down. Thanks for the cool pictures of statues. The Russian statue looks awe inspiring!


    • Jay said,

      June 22, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      I’d seen pictures of the Russian statue before, but without people in the picture to give me an impression of scale. Whoa!

      It occurred to me after publishing that – in lieu of the ongoing World Cup 2014 – I should have also included a picture of Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro. Maybe I’ll edit it in… 🙂


  3. June 23, 2014 at 1:11 am

    Thanks for reading–and for the review! I love the ideas about statues in here, and I’m glad that my story led you to down an interesting train of thought. This is getting me thinking about human statues now–more, in fact, than when I wrote the story. What strange and potentially creepy things they are… Love the pictures also, will now have to look into some of these. Great post!

    The publisher now being defunct, I don’t think any of these anthologies are available anymore. But I would love to get my stories that they published back out there somehow!


    • Jay said,

      June 23, 2014 at 1:04 pm

      Thanks, Joanna, and I’m glad you’re thinking about statues now too… 🙂 The more ancient statues I read about in my “research” fascinated me the most. I didn’t realize, for example, how much older the Sphinx was than a lot of the other Egyptian landmarks of antiquity.

      Sorry to hear that the story isn’t currently available. If that ever changes I can return to this post and edit in a link if you let me know.



  4. Paula Cappa said,

    June 23, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Jay, I love statues. I have a stone angel in my front garden. I often feel that statues have a story or something to ‘say.’ I’d love to read this story. Very cool pix!


    • Jay said,

      June 23, 2014 at 1:11 pm

      Thanks, Paula. On a somewhat related note, I’ve developed a routine the past few months of going for long walks before I go in to work. This requires me to get up early and walk part of the time in the dark, or dim pre-dawn. Over time, I’ve gotten used to the landcape of my route, including yard statues and things that, from a distance at least, trick me into thinking there’s “someone” else up and about but – when I get closer – turn out to be inanimate. That time of day, for safety reasons, one’s (at least my!) senses are more highly tuned to look for potential “trouble” which also leads to seeing “human” shapes among the shadows. It’s an interesting phenomenon… 🙂


  5. Dale said,

    June 23, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Jay, what a great post! And a great internet adventure that it took you on! The “live” statues in Indy are great! And, yes, I understand the strangeness.


    • Jay said,

      June 23, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      Thanks Dale. Glad you liked it. I remember when Indy’s “Union Station” reopened (to much fanfare) downtown in the late 80s(?) those types of statues were a popular feature among many.

      The “lady with the grocery bag” statue is one of my least favorite, as she looks so stern and scolding. And that coat! Yikes! 🙂



  6. June 24, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Unfortunate that neither of those anthologies are available currently. I could always use another good horror anthology and “The Garden” sounds wonderfully unsettling.

    Are you familiar with the Weeping Angels on Doctor Who?


    • Jay said,

      June 24, 2014 at 5:48 pm

      I’ve had pretty good look with the small press anthologies. I usually get enough good stories out of them to satisfy me – and the price is usually less as well. I’m currently reading “Dead Man’s Hand” which is a collection of “Weird Western” tales, but it includes some better known authors including Hugh Howey, Beth Revis, and Alan Dean Foster. Coincidentally, the story I’m on now deals with characters who have ‘magic’ decks of cards that they can use to get out of trouble or conflict. Maybe I’ll re-read that one for DMI 2015…

      Sadly, I’m not a Whovian (not even sure if that’s the correct usage) but maybe someday I’ll explore that series. I grew up a Star Trek fan and remain so. 🙂


      • June 25, 2014 at 9:58 am

        My mom is a big SF fan with a particular love of British TV. I was a Whovian before it was cool. 😉 The first and best weeping angel’s episode of Doctor Who (“Blink”) is fairly stand-alone if you come across it.


        • Jay said,

          June 29, 2014 at 1:19 pm

          Thanks. I’ll make a note of that one. 🙂


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