Review: The Wingspan of Severed Hands by Joanna Koch


Buy it here: Weirdpunk Books, Amazon


Three Women, One Battle

A world gone mad. Cities abandoned. Dreams invade waking minds. An invisible threat lures those who oppose its otherworldly violence to become acolytes of a nameless cult. As a teenage girl struggles for autonomy, a female weapons director in a secret research facility develops a living neuro-cognitive device that explodes into self-awareness. Discovering their hidden emotional bonds, all three women unveil a common enemy as their dissonant realities intertwine in a cosmic battle across hallucinatory dreamscapes.

Time is the winning predator, and every moment spirals deeper into the heart of the beast.


At the end of the novella The Wingspan of the Severed Hands, I closed the book and sat back in my chair. The first thing I thought was, “What the hell did I just read?” The story is two, maybe two and a half narratives weaved seamlessly in a fever dreamlike state. In the beginning, Adria’s mother catches her having sex and shames her. The second narrative is about Adria Bennet, a weapons director that is developing a neuro-cognitive weapon that turns into a female form named Adria.  Then whatever clarity we have been given slowly turns into a surreal confusion and some extreme horror. 

*This might feel like a spoiler but there is absolutely no way to spoil this book, but here’s a warning anyway*

Many different theories about what was actually going on formed while reading this, most of them more confusing than the next. One of the easy ones is that all three are the same person in different times or different dimensions. Another is that Adria, the girl in the beginning, is living in a world where everyone is going insane and this does not happen at all, that this is all induced by the stress of her mother catching her having sex. Another is that this is all just a metaphorical retelling of the fall of man in the book of Genesis. There can be more than these three ideas of the plot, and this is what makes this novella so special. Not everyone can pull off a book like this. Part of my time while reading without knowing much of what is happening actually was me thinking about how this was written. I could never write something like this. Joanna Koch’s writing is stunning and consistently striking. I reread several sentences, several paragraphs just from the sheer beauty of the words. Even the title, The Wingspan of Severed Hands has such a poetic quality to it, that I catch myself repeating it in my head over and over again while I am doing other things. 

I am glad that this is a small book because this is also one of the first books I have finished and wanted to reread immediately. I have no clue what has happened but I have several ideas that fit. Instead of putting this in my shelves of books already read, The Wingspan of Severed Hands will find itself right back in my TBR pile.

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