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Fiction Literary


by (author) Madeline Sonik

Nightwood Editions
Initial publish date
Apr 2002
Literary, Healing, Occult & Supernatural
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2002
    List Price

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We are mesmerized, enthralled. A young, armless girl, tangled in the brutal arrowhead wire of glistening ivy, stares with dead eyes. If I had arms, I would embrace my shaking body. I would lift my hands to my face, cover my eyes, hold the aching scream in my mouth.

Combining Wiccan ritual magic, Gnosticism, alchemy and of course Madeline Sonik's dazzling writing and storytelling, this magic-realist novella relates the story of a young woman who loses her arms in a freak home-accident and embarks on a quest for them in an absurdly complex and callous world. Sonik's gripping prose leads us through new but eerily familiar surroundings as the heroine follows an extraordinary path of enchantment, marriage, agony, ridicule, ritual and self-realization.

Arms is both a work of fiction and a magical text of healing, and as such is the first work of its kind to be published in North America. It was written, originally, as a black cord dissertation for the 13th House Mystery School and as a transformational incantation to assist those who read it in the recovery and rebirth of the creative imagination. Arms is a rare story with a powerful fairy-tale, classical element that will prevent it from escaping the reader's mind and will coax re-reading for even the squeamish and the skeptical.

About the author

Madeline Sonik's first collection of short fiction, Drying the Bones, was released by Nightwood Editions in 2000. She is the co-editor of the recently released anthology Entering the Landscape (Oberon) and in 1998 identified a new direction in Canadian writing with the anthology Fresh Blood: New Canadian Gothic Fiction (Turnstone Press). Her fiction and poetry have appeared in major literary magazines, including Event, Grain, Pottersfield Portfolio, The New Quarterly and Descant. She holds an MA in Journalism and is currently an MFA candidate at The University of British Columbia. She is also a black cord priestess of 13th House Mystery School and a practicing witch.

Madeline Sonik's profile page


  • Runner-up, First Novel Award

Editorial Reviews

Arms is a strange, surreal, magical story about a girl whose arms are amputated by flying shingles when her home actually explodes because of the emotional volatility of her parents ... extremely memorable.
--W.P. Kinsella, Books in Canada

Arms, is a verbal heartache, a bravura performance of language and performance of language and perverse imagination ... The power of the book is unstoppable, largely because of the amazing imagery and manipulation of language ... The metaphorical quality of the novel dances between the magical and the realistic in an exquisite pairing ... Sonik's voice is unusual and absolutely compelling ... what a journey!
--Candace Fertile, Globe and Mail

Other titles by Madeline Sonik