Praise for Frances the Mute:
In Kristina Marie Darling’s novel, Frances the Mute, a weirdly-domestic romance between Frances and Darcy unfolds somewhere in the land of undead, maybe dead. It unfolds, or rather circles, in the odd details of clothing, in the oddly empty language of the romance novel’s diamond rings and “all that dark red hair tumbling from her shoulders.” Darling goes back, back, back at that language, back at those tired symbols of “love” to get at something. The result is unsettling, is clattering in an absurd emptiness that is full of junk romance, and it always remains somehow tender. “Darcy had tried marriage, music, and suicide, and he was left with an unworn dress, his stuttering bride.”
Frances the Mute / The Bright Continent is a love story shaped by the language of absence—and haunted by the absence of language. In Kristina Marie Darling’s hands, the “small ornaments” of the quotidian are invested with a radiant significance rustling beneath the surface of words. Only by traversing silence do we “sing perfectly,” she reminds us, as if recalling and revising Keats’s famously voiceless lovers from his Grecian urn. For Keats, “Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard / Are sweeter.” For Darling, the sweetest music is that which is rife with the uncanny.