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  • Daisy Simpson-Talmer

Sneak Peek: 'The Naming of Moths' by Tracy Fells

Yellow and blue graphic, depicting the cover for 'The Naming of Moths' by Tracy Fells, and the phrase 'Exclusive Extract!'

Tracy Fells' spellbinding collection, The Naming of Moths, is a dark and mesmerising journey that captivates from the very first page. From stories of magical realism, to mythical retellings, Fells weaves a tapestry of tales that handle themes of motherhood, marriage, and the monstrous.

With this exclusive extract, we're excited to unveil the first page of the titular story, in which we are introduced to Sofia, a refugee entomologist, as she sits by the beside of the ailing Miss Bethan...


The Naming of Moths

“He is my son, I created him.” Miss Bethan’s words fall softly, like a blessing.

Sofia leans closer to hear the old lady, her long black hair falling against Miss Bethan’s nightdress. A noise scratches from inside the pleated shade of the bedside lamp, where a moth has become trapped. She cups it quickly within her palms, ignoring the heat of the bulb.

“Let me see,” Adam calls out. He has been sitting at his mother’s bedside since midday, never once leaving her. His eyes shine. He wants to name the moth.

Sofia lets him peep into her hands. The moth has distinctive markings, black bands stretched across crimson wings. A common species for the time of year, though usually found during the day.

“Cinnabar.” He names it correctly, grinning with pride. Adam remembers every moth, even the ones Sofia has only described from memory. He can learn, she thinks, despite what his uncles say – the same uncles who gather in Miss Bethan’s house, waiting for the old lady to die.

Sofia lets the moth escape into the garden, then shuts the window, clicking the latch tight. “Did you open the window, Adam?”

He shakes his head. Adam does not lie. “I opened it.” A woman’s voice answers.

One of the uncles’ wives has joined them upstairs. A woman with dark eyes and the shadow of a moustache framing her top lip, hair tightly combed back from her face. She drapes a towel over the dressing table mirror. “It stinks in here.” The woman pinches her nose – an unnecessary mime – then is gone again.


The Naming of Moths features stories of magical realism, myths and legends re-imagined, where all the characters are undergoing transformation or facing a pivotal moment of change in their lives. People and animals interchange their shapes. Story landscapes flit from fairy-tale woods to urban homes. Here love, hope and kindness weave between the realities of man’s endless talent for cruelty.

Tracy Fells' debut short story collection is available to pre-order now!

Yellow and blue graphic, depicting the cover for 'The Naming of Moths' by Tracy Fells, and the phrase 'Read More: 10.11.23'

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