Above Discovery by Jennifer Falkner

Above Discovery by Jennifer Falkner is a very slim little volume of short stories, almost unassuming. Inside is a wild ride of stories, yanking you from different eras and styles every few pages, but somehow fully immersing you into these stories in only a few words. What results is a thoroughly riveting set of stories, impressive in breadth of topic and style. Falkner’s debut collection of short stories is one to read, and one to watch. Each story was interesting, and completely unlike the one preceding it, which was impressive.

Falkner opens her collection with a set of journal entries in “Nineteen Above Discovery,” the writings of Alma, who has come to look for gold in the Klondike with her brother Jack, fleeing a home where they had nothing but their father’s debts. And from this dark, desperate collection of journal entries, we are launched into a multitude of other times and realities: ancient Greece, Shakespearean England, dream worlds, and more. Set in a contemporary time is “Columbina,” about a puppeteer who takes up the craft after having to quit ballet, and her first puppet, who despises her mentor and partner in puppetry. A sinister story about the power Columbina has, it takes a step into the realm of the Gothic, while later, “The Inventory,” about a couple going through the collections of preserved insects of a dead biologist, set in a future without insects in the world. Here, Falkner steps into a strange sci-fi moment. The stories in this collection slip into all genres, and yet come together to make a cohesive volume.

Falkner’s voice is strong, but measured enough to allow each story to be wholly unique from the ones which precede it. Falkner’s writing is careful and deliberate, choosing words with great weight and not wasting a single one, allowing her to create these full stories in the space of a few pages. Falkner is a talented writer, and particularly skilled in the realm of short story writing. I have high standards for my short stories, and I enjoyed Above Discovery immensely.

My only quibble with this collection is that I wish it had been longer. Falkner builds little worlds in the span of a few pages, incredibly well, but there were a few stories where length would have been more beneficial, letting the reader in a bit more and making the story richer. Stories like “Lion in the Desert” were lovely, but left me a little uncertain and wanting more. Either way, I’ll be looking for more Jennifer Falkner in the future, and will be looking forward to see what she could do in a longer format, because her work in short stories is pretty great.

Raised in Alberta, Jennifer Falkner lives in Ottawa, on the traditional, unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabeg First Nation. She has degrees in ancient history and currently works as a library technician. Her stories have won the HWA/Dorothy Dunnett Short Story competition, the Retreat West Short Story Contest, and the Little Bird Short Story Contest. She is the author of the novella Susanna Hall, Her Book, inspired by the life of Shakespeare’s daughter.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Invisible Publishing (May 23 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 109 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1778430201
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1778430206

 -- Website

Alison Manley has ricocheted between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for most of her life. Now in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she is the Cataloguing and Metadata Librarian at Saint Mary's University. Her past life includes a long stint as a hospital librarian on the banks of the mighty Miramichi River. She has an honours BA in political science and English from St. Francis Xavier University, and a Master of Library and Information Studies from Dalhousie University. While she's adamant that her love of reading has nothing to do with her work, her ability to consume large amounts of information very quickly sure is helpful. She is often identified by her very red lipstick, and lives with her partner Brett and cat, Toasted Marshmallow.