Janice is a naive, sheltered 30-something from one of New Orleans’ old money families. Her mother wants her to marry within her station, but Janice is obsessed with Brad, a young player well below Janice and her mother’s social status.
When Janice makes a voodoo doll, Brad becomes the obsessed, and Janice has to grow up fast. She learns that wishes should be well thought out and that dolls ain’t for play.
“They sneak glances at me, a local, as they pass. I smile and wave, just a lift of my hand to acknowledge them, and then close my eyes again. If they only knew how the dead can linger, long after their bodies have decomposed. But they’d only pass it off as another New Orleans masquerade, one that only adds to their fascination with the place.
Despite their macabre imaginations, they don’t believe the things they say, all those things about magic and fantômes. But I do. I know he lingers. I’ve heard his voice, soft as a lover’s whisper. So I visit as often as possible, to keep him company. It’s only right.”
A women’s literary fiction novella, Couillon advises the reader to watch what you wish for because the scariest monsters in this world are always human.
“Couillon’ is a superb short story! A native of Louisiana, I lived in New Orleans for four years and really felt like I was back there again and involved with Sara Stark’s characters. The story is an engrossing read with intriguing and unexpected twists in the plot. Can’t wait to read more from this talented author.”
—JackieM, Amazon reviewer
“Sara Stark is indeed, a friend of mine. However, this isn’t why I’m giving her debut work a 5-star rating.
While I don’t consider the protagonist, Janice, very high on the “likability scale,” I grew to understand the motives behind her actions throughout the story. Sara crafted a haunting, descriptive and clever tale, starting with the title–Couillon (pronounced “KOO-YOn”), which means fool, dupe and/or several other disparaging monikers. In reading the story I discovered more layers and applications for this aptly-chose, one-word title.
Sara effectively captures the sights, sounds, dialect and even smells of New Orleans. But she steers clear of pegging the story down to a specific time frame, beyond being “contemporary.” Vehicles, appliances and various common-place items are given generic descriptions, so the narrative has a timelessness to it.
The story itself follows the trajectory of a woman finding herself in an abusive marriage. How Janice gets involved, then escapes, delves into the mind of someone truly desperate. The protagonist, a woman with no self-worth, employs voodoo magic, to make her life better. However, as in all “wish fulfillment” stories, the situation goes horribly awry. However, even though Janice and some of those around her believe in the “old magic,” the reader never sees any overt manifestations of the supernatural. Unlike paranormal romances and thrillers, no zombies, apparitions, ghosts, or demons, burst out of portals to wreck havoc here on the material plane. So the only horror in this story is one of emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Nearly all the odd occurrences have a logical explanation.
Or do they? The reader is left wondering.
And any story that leaves you wondering, long after you’ve read it, deserves a 5-star rating.”
—T. Henkle, Amazon reviewer