Tales from the Fountain Pen by E. Lynn Hooghiemstra

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Tales from the Fountain Pen by E. Lynn Hooghiemstra
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary, Historical
Length: Short Story (59 pages)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Maggie was ready to embrace life and enjoy attending vocational college when the war came to her village in the Netherlands and changed everything. In a series of interconnected stories Maggie struggles with fear, shortages, the resistance, the dangers of falling in love and who to trust. Nothing is as it had been and, as the holder of the fountain pen learns from her comfortable office in the present day, fear and uncertainty are ever-present companions.

As the narrator fills and refills the inherited fountain pen from the 1940s, the pen takes on a life of its own as it relates the details of the events that shaped Maggie’s life, and strengthens the bond between Maggie and her future daughter.

Some memories never dim over time.

Imagine what it would be like to step into a chapter of your mother’s life that she did her very best to erase for good. Maggie’s young adulthood was spent living in unrelenting fear and deprivation, and she thought she was doing the right thing by shielding her daughter from the harsh reality of her formative years. By far the most powerful scenes show how this decision affects not only the rest of her life but her daughter’s experiences as well.

It was in these moments that I wished Tales from the Fountain Pen was either a few hundred pages longer or the first in a long series of novellas. The author’s depiction of how the quiet scars from emotional trauma can be inadvertently passed down to the next generation is as heartbreaking as it is stunningly accurate.

The first transition from present day to the past is a little difficult to pick out at first because the narration continues to be written in first person, but this is a very minor criticism of an otherwise enthralling tale. As soon as I adjusted to it I had no problem slipping from one time period to the next as Maggie’s daughter discovers some of her mother’s deepest secrets.

The historical details in this piece are what solidified my decision to give it such a high rating. From the inherent messiness of old-fashioned fountain pens to the sweet and slightly flowery taste of Elderflower tea, I felt like I, too, had been transported back to the middle of last century. Some facts are difficult to tease out unless one has personal experience with household goods that have since become quite rare in modern society, but all of the antiques that I have personal experience with were described in impeccable detail during the course of Maggie’s adventures.

I never wanted Tales from the Fountain Pen to end. This is an unforgettable story that I’d highly recommend to anyone who loves mainstream fiction with a paranormal flair.

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