A fascinating and rewarding creation, Marie Brennan’s DRIFTWOOD is charming, meditative, and often poignant

A quartet of reviews for the fantastic DRIFTWOOD by Marie Brennan.

At FANTASY LITERATURE, Bill Capossere praises the book.

DRIFTWOOD (2020) is a charming, meditative, and often poignant collection of linked stories by Marie Brennan that mostly succeeds both in its individual tales and as a whole, though I had a few issues. But given that one of those is it was too short, it’s still an easy book to recommend.


I absolutely love the setting, which serves up endless potential for stories, since each one reveals a new world to us. Driftwood has a bit of a Calvino-esque feel to it, particularly Invisible Cities, one of my all-time favorite works of fiction. You’ve got visits to different worlds (cities), a sense of the fantastical, each new setting told as a story, some lyrical language. And, as with Calvino, a bit of a haunting sadness.  Brennan uses the rich potential of the setting premise to deliver some beautifully original images/ideas, which I won’t ruin by noting here.


A collection of simple stories, each self-contained but building into a cycle that is more than the sum of its parts, DRIFTWOOD is a fascinating and rewarding creation, conveyed in prose that can range from the solemn to the bitter to the darkly humorous but is never less than engaging. Brennan is at home sketching the linguistics of a world, bringing alive a marketplace (‘…a thousand spices, each one distinct on the tongue. Aromatic flowers that danced in the gentle air, their seeds spreading I the ceaseless light. Serpents doxing in the warmth, sold as pets, as sacrifices, as food…’) or imaging its complex religious life as she is evoking the long-lived, continually reborn bar, Spit in the Crush’s Eye or describing with great flair the adventurers who brought the balloon to Driftwood and sought to map it – undermining the solemnity of purpose expected in a fantasy novel by saying they did it simply because it seemed a fun thing to do. Everyone might be doomed, swirling away into the pit, but there are lives to live and people here to live them. Finding a calm place between denial of the inevitable and obsession with it seems to be key – in Driftwood as in our own world(s).

READING REALITY adores the mosaic novel.

Escape Rating A+: Some books are just WOW! And DRIFTWOOD is definitely one of those books.


Many of the stories in DRIFTWOOD have been previously and separately published, but together they make a surprisingly wonderful and cohesive whole. A whole that is entirely too short but begins, middles and ends exactly where it should. A beautiful puzzlement and a fantastic read

For THE BRITISH FANTASY SOCIETY, Mikaela Silk feels much the same.

I’ll admit I was unsure about this book when I first started reading, but it drew me in bit by bit and I was enthralled by the time I finished reading.

With its unique setting, ‘Driftwood’ offers a refreshingly different take on the apocalypse. There are no zombies, no nuclear or natural disasters, no tales of people resorting to looting or cannibalism. Instead, it focuses on the deeper and more personal aspects of an apocalypse. The question of what people will do when their world and their culture and their civilisation is disappearing, slowly slipping away to an inevitable doom, is endlessly fascinating. The most interesting feature of this is the variety which Brennan’s setting allows; from those who try to deny the inevitability, such as the King of the Miqerni, to those like Noirin who simply want to ease the loss and for the memories of her people to last as long as possible.