Vacui Magia by L.S. Johnson



  • Brilliantly written
  • Interesting retelling of mythology and folklore
  • Made me feel uncomfortable but in a good way


  • Not a fan of one or two stories
  • Can’t really work out the time period most of the stories are set in



Eight brilliantly written pieces of fiction that blend together magic, myth and folklore with a bit of science fiction.

Little Men with Knives:

This first story really sets the tone of the collection. It’s about an old woman who leaves out food every day for the gnomes or little people in her garden. I found it interesting how it drew on the tale about fairies who tidy your house if you leave them food but inverted it and made it darker by mixing it with the tales of Red Caps.

It was also good how Johnson made you question what was real or not.


Vacui Magia:

This is a sort of instruction/ grimoire / journal like structure about how to create a golem. I’m not usually into this kind of format but it worked here. It was very emotional and at times heart breaking though the ending wasn’t what I expected.


The Pursuit of the Whole is Called Love:

I admit I wasn’t a fan of this story, it went a bit over my head. I think it was more science fiction with – I think – aliens that remind me of Plato’s idea of soulmates. It dealt with issues love and the individual.



Another one I wasn’t so sure on. It was a bit weird and made me a bit uncomfortable at one point which worked for the story – never going to look at seeds the same way again. It’s to do with a girl than ignores her mother’s warning and gets punished for it. Kind of reminded me of Greek myths where people are turned into something else after traumatic events.



I liked this more than I thought I would and definitely is a more modern twist of a Greek myth. Not going to say which since that would spoil it.


This is How You Lose Yourself:

This I think was the shortest of the stories and was more poem like… prose poem maybe? TBH I’ve no idea really about it.



Great modern twist of the story of the Fates of Greek/ Roman mythology. Doesn’t really feel like a spoiler since the title is the name of one of the Fates. It was a bit slow but I liked how the myth was re-reimagined



Interesting story. Not sure what to say about. I did sort of like it but as I was reading I kept thinking of Marquis De Sade or The Story of O – a tamer less graphic version which has been twisted slightly. No idea why I thought that, I haven’t even read them, though we had to watch some of the films at uni.


Even though I wasn’t a fan of all the stories I appreciated them. I liked how myth and folklore was re-imagined and twisted. Each story felt like it was trying to say something even if I wasn’t sure what that was on my first read. It’s a good collection for those who like retellings or darker tales.



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