by Nicholas Conley
Genre: Fantasy, Visionary Fiction
Final Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Katie Mirowitz is a small little girl with an even smaller little voice. She possesses a deep love for her grandfather, who suffers from aphasia after a bad stroke cuts loose the part of his brain that processes verbal language. When Katie uncovers a miraculous secret inside the pages of her grandfather’s old journal, as well as an ancient key, she goes out into the woods in search of answers — hoping to uncover a mythical being that, if it exists, may just have the ability to grant wishes.
First Sentence: Two years had passed since the stroke.
This is the second story I have read from Nicholas Conley. I was so impressed with his most recent novel, Intraterrestrial, that I just had to get his other books as well!
Clay Tongue is a novelette. It’s a super short read, but brimming over the edges with heart. Katie Mirowitz is a sweet 10-year-old girl who is super shy (so shy, she even has trouble talking to her mother). Her grandfather is the only one she feels a strong connection with and can talk to him without the slightest anxiety. Even after he suffers from a stroke that leaves him suffering from aphasia, which makes it impossible for him to verbalize with others, Katie can still communicate with him incredibly well, on such a heartfelt level.
Katie finds a story in one of her grandfather’s notebooks that he never finished writing about a mythical golem made out of clay. He dwells in a cave that happens to be on her family’s land and will grant one wish to anyone. Heartbroken after overhearing her mother say that she isn’t sure how much longer they’ll be able to take care of all the grandfather’s needs, Katie braves the dark night and even darker cave in hopes that the story of golem is real.
Katie is such a wonderful character! She is at that age of innocence where she still has a heart big enough to save the world three times over. Despite her shyness and awkwardness around others, she is brave and selfless. The grandfather was also a fun character to read about. Reading his narration of the story he wrote truly brought out his personality.
The golems situation is beyond heartbreaking. We are given glimpses of his heartless master that created him and how it came to pass that he ended up stuck in a wall. Though I’m not sure if this is what the author intended, I related the golem to the grandfather: the clay representing the grandfather’s inability to speak, the fact that the golem was stuck in a wall representing the grandfather stuck in a wheelchair, and golem’s master representing the grandfather’s mind, and the wall itself that the master built around the golem representing the stroke.
I can’t say too much more without giving away the story. In all, it’s a lovely little story that touched my heart. It’s a story that I would like to read with my daughter over the summer as well. Just an all around good story!
She couldn’t help but notice a deep sadness pervaded the cave, as if she’d stepped into someone’s abandoned dream.
Final Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Other Books by Nicholas Conely that I’ve reviewed: