“My name is Ineluki. I come from past the mountains and ice. It took me many days to reach here. All I know are dead. Will you take me in?”And so begins a calamitous year at the edge of the world.
Chief for the year, Aukul’s life has never been better. His people respect him, he spends his nights with the love of his life, and his skills as a butcher and chef improve every day. Then Ineluki, a young stranger, wanders into town with nothing but an empty book. He begins telling stories of the world beyond the one they know. His stories challenge their reality and lead to a summer of unprecedented disasters.
One by one, the villagers begin dancing. Dancing tirelessly, as if in a trance, until they die. Believing Ineluki is to blame, Aukul confronts him on the worst night of his life.
Glossolalia: or don’t scream it on the mountain is a novella written by E. Rathke, which is a little bit difficult to classify in a genre, oscillating between historical fiction (if a prehistoric novel can be called it) and fantasy. It’s a really different book, using a really special narrator style, trying to tell us about what happened to a small village of artic dwellers when a stranger (Ineluki) walked into their place.
Glossolalia is such a strange story. In the best style of Soulsborne games, the worldbuilding is made in a really fragmented way, hiding small clues in each part of the storytelling, but never giving a straightforward explanation of what is happening, letting it to the imagination of the reader. The style of narrating, being something closer to an oral transcription than a written story, contributes to this style of worldbuilding.
The plot isn’t the most important but features magic, descriptions of madness, and power plays. The characters are really mundane, being just vehicles to deliver the story, outside of Ineluki and Aukul’s; but we get to know them on such short notice, especially as the extreme situations work as catalysts to show their instincts and their most human feelings.
I expect this book to be kinda divisive among readers. The way the plot is structured is weird, and sometimes it feels irregular, especially in the length of chapters, but it has a reason. Sometimes, it’s closer to a dream experience than a story per sé, but I promise all will make sense in the end. I think E. Rathke has potential, so I can’t wait to read some of his other works.
E. Rathke is the author of Glossolalia and several more forthcoming novellas. He writes about games and books at radicaledward.substack.com.