The Archive of Alternate Endings (Paperback)
Captivating...Drager's plot is ambitious and emotionally resonant, making for a clever, beguiling novel. --Publishers Weekly starred review
Tracking the evolution of Hansel and Gretel at seventy-five-year intervals that correspond with earth's visits by Halley's Comet, The Archive of Alternate Endings explores how stories are disseminated and shared, edited and censored, voiced and left untold.
In 1456, Johannes Gutenberg's sister uses the tale as a surrogate for sharing a family secret only her brother believes. In 1835, The Brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm revise the tale to bury a truth about Jacob even he can't come to face. In 1986, a folklore scholar and her brother come to find the record is wrong about the figurative witch in the woods, while in 2211, twin space probes aiming to find earth's sister planet disseminate the narrative in binary code. Breadcrumbing back in time from 2365 to 1378, siblings reimagine, reinvent, and recycle the narrative of Hansel and Gretel to articulate personal, regional, and ultimately cosmic experiences of tragedy.
Through a relay of speculative pieces that oscillate between eco-fiction and psychological horror, The Archive of Alternate Endings explores sibling love in the face of trauma over the course of a millennium, in the vein of Richard McGuire's Here and Lars von Trier's Melancholia.