The Driftless Unsolicited Novella Series • Release Date: October 15, 2019

Print ISBN: 978-1-948559-37-9 • Ebook ISBN: 978-1-948559-40-9

Brain Mill Press offers Fenella, a Witch in ebook and trade paperback editions. Ebook buyers receive access to MOBI (Kindle), EPUB, and PDF files, offered without DRM restrictions. Print book buyers receive a physical copy of the book and access to the ebook files in all formats.

Fenella has done a Very Bad Thing. She keeps the decapitated head in her freezer to prove it.

Stefanie Moers introduces the remarkable Fenella, an unsettling and seductive deviant whose command of witchcraft is either a delusion or dangerous. As the evidence against her piles up, she compels everyone — her attorney, her sister, the courts — to go along with her, even as they try to resist the power of her chaotic charm.

Readers of Kelly Link, Carmen Maria Machado, and Shirley Jackson will devour this darkly charismatic debut novella.


Stefanie Moers lives in Minnesota and has worked in libraries for most of her life.

AN EXCERPT from Fenella, a Witch by Stefanie Moers

© Stefanie Moers, 2019. All rights reserved.

At the bar trying to divine the message swirling in the golden spiral of cream she’s just poured into her coffee, Fenella sees something very strange. In the flex of her left hand there’s a glint of metal. Something thin under the skin with the bare edge pricking out. It’s a needle.

Bemused, Fenella touches it. There’s a little ridge over it, barely perceptible, of skin. She tries to roll the thing around and make more of the exposed bit come out. It’s like a sliver but instead it’s a sewing needle.

Tilting her head down over her palm she gets her fingernails around the tiny shiny bit and tries to tug it out, but her fingers slip up around it without making it budge upward at all. She wipes her sweaty fingers on her napkin and tries again. This time, holding on with determination, it comes up and out of her skin.

She holds it between her thumb and forefinger up to the pink light over the bar and wonders how it got in her hand in the first place. It hadn’t hurt coming out. It was like the game they played in elementary school when all the small girls would thread pins through the tip-top layer of skin at their fingertips and wave their hands at one another, pretending to be witches or bats. The teachers confiscated the pins and sent letters home. This now is what that felt like, sort of a dainty pull, nothing harsher. There is no blood.

She turns her hand palm up again, looks very closely and sees another needle sunk in there. This one’s a little bit deeper. She pushes up at the base of it, nudging it upward, until enough is poking out of her skin that she can get a steady pinch on it. This one she pulls out too, again it comes out without injury, smooth as pulling a fork out of cream cheese.

She puts the needle down next to the other one and holds her hand up to the light. It’s full of needles. They show like very thin dark seams against an otherwise transparent cloth. She grits her teeth and sets to getting all of them out. The bartender, passing by on his way to rinse a glass, makes a strange face.

Fenella doesn’t know where the needles came from at all, she doesn’t remember putting them in her hand. For each one she pulls out another seems to show up, as if they are packed in there in layers, like fish on ice. She creates a little pile of needles next to her coffee cup in getting them all out.

It doesn’t seem, she tells herself as she adds another to the bunch, as if that many needles would fit into a human lady’s hand. Of course maybe they came to be in her hand quite naturally, maybe she without knowing put her hand down in a place full of needles, maybe in digging around in a drawer they came to be in her hand. Well, she doesn’t remember it, but that doesn’t mean anything. Once she heard a story of a girl who swallowed a pin and didn’t know it until her lung deflated. This could be a similar case.

When her hand looks clear she flexes it and holds it back up to the light. All of the dark little seams have disappeared. She runs her thumb over her palm. The skin is smooth. When they played the pin game as little girls there were always little perforations at the fingertips where the pins had punched through, little tunnels under the skin, and sometimes the skin would tear and the tunnel collapse.

Maybe, she thinks, it’s because this time there’s only an entry point. The needles never came out the other side. This might make a difference. She takes a drink of coffee and wonders why she hadn’t noticed the needles before now. It seems they should have been making it very difficult for her to use her hand at all. Oh well, she thinks.

“Have you ever encountered a lady with so many needles in her hand?” she asks the bartender. He frowns as if he doesn’t know what she’s talking about even though he does. Fenella plays along and shows him her needles. “Maybe I’m not even a lady after all,” she adds and laughs. The bartender wipes the glass and doesn’t even smile, he doesn’t care what she is or isn’t. Fenella laughs at that too.


Share This