Title: At War with the Fireflies
Author: Veronica McDonald
About The Author
Veronica McDonald is a poet, fiction writer, and former nihilist turned Christian. She has an MA in Literature from American University, and her fiction and poetry have appeared in several literary venues including Jersey Devil Press, Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, and Five on the Fifth, among others. She currently lives in San Diego with her husband and three children.
Veronica McDonald’s second chapbook of strange poems travels through the shifting realities one encounters when moving out of darkness and into light. These 22 pieces begin with a bleak worldview, in which simple acts of destruction and death construct existence, then develop into revelations of vitality and life beyond the decay of the world. Her use of insects, animals, and caricatures demonstrate the pain and absurdity of living in a meaningless world and push the reader to experience the denial, confusion, discomfort, frustration, and wonder that permeate the arduous journey out of darkness and into hope, life, and light.
At War with the Fireflies is the poet’s journey in verse, from darkness to light. The book begins with an introductory passage that I like very much. As expected, the poems are dark, a little bit gruesome at times with their imagery of squashing insects, pinning their wings, heart ripped out, nose between the toes, and the like. The imagery, however, aptly describes the flip side of life and all that is wrong with it. The metaphors used are beautiful, unusual, and in keeping with the subject.
The cover is dark too, in keeping with the theme, with a point of light showing through. Yet like the poems, the depth to the darkness is not really painful or gut-wrenching, which is both good and bad, depending on one’s perspective and whether one like such dark poetry or not.
The style is mostly free verse, with not much rhyme. The poems read well and smoothly. There is also a collection of five haikus in the book. The dark journey ends on a positive note with a movement towards the light, hope and possibilities.
The book is very well put together. What I would have preferred to see in the kindle version is a detailed interactive TOC to make navigation easier. But apart from that, I found the book interesting and engaging without being too gory to put off those who don’t like dark themes much. I definitely look forward to reading more from Veronica’s pen in the future.