“Melissa Hardy is quietly becoming one of the best writers of short fiction working today, equally at ease with modern realist fiction, historical fiction, magical realism, and pure fantasy.”

Terry Windling, The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, 2003.

Advance Praise for The Oracle of Cumae

Final Cover Oracle“The 99-year-old female narrator of The Oracle of Cumae spins a wickedly engaging and hilarious yarn as she unloads her secrets. The story crackles with snappy dialogue, sorcery, romantic and evil spells, a mummy, oracles, jettatores, explosions, disembodied limbs, and boozy parties set in Italian olive groves. This reader didn’t want this party of a novel to end!  Melissa Hardy practices her own kind of wizardry as her entertaining troupe of unusual characters navigates through humorous and imaginative terrains. One of the funniest novels I’ve read in a long time—maybe ever.”

Catharine Leggett, author of The Way to Go Home and In Progress

“I had been under the apparently false impression that oracles are always dignified and confined to a single sacred space, but the oracle in Melissa Hardy’s new novel is sly, meddlesome and peripatetic. She gets around in the company of a scruffy, independent-minded young girl, the narrator of this hilarious, anachronistic, romance/comedy of errors.”

Stan Dragland, author of Strangers & Others: The Great Eastern

“Melissa Hardy’s irreverent and funny novel The Oracle of Cumae is a layered tale wherein the present collides with the distant past. Coming to the end of her life, Mariuccia calls for a priest—but not because she wants to confess her sins. She has a secret to tell. She’s carried it all her life; it is older than humanity.

Mariuccia comes from a family that for generations has been the guardians of the cave of Lady Sibylla, one of the god Apollo’s oracles. It is not easy to be the protectors of Lady Sibylla. The oracle is irreverent, nosy, mischievous, and she talks too much, all of which makes her incredibly funny at her work. Underscored by the fact that old people literally shrink in the novel, Lady Sibylla is the engine of the absurd humor that permeates the story.

As Mariuccia tells the priest about her life, her relationship to Lady Sibylla serves as the framework. Within it, new characters appear, telling their stories in their own words, leading to a reading experience similar to that of unpacking a Russian doll, disassembling and reassembling it to reveal new surprises within each layer.

Several threads run throughout, with the conniving Lady Sibylla at their center. A man who can’t help but give people the evil eye and a lovesick bachelor whose life is turned upside down because of botched love potions are the main threads. The comedy of errors that results from the bachelor’s toyed-with feelings runs out of steam, and the oracle’s final attempt to get things right is quirky as a result. The man with the evil eye, however, showcases the book’s absurdism fully.

As it meanders toward its climax, The Oracle of Cumae is entertaining and full of surprises. It’s a novel that relishes in poking fun at itself and its characters.”

Erika Harlitz KernForeword Magazine (September / October 2019)


About Surface Rights

Cover_SurfaceRights“A thoroughly readable, and enjoyable, modern family saga. The Macouns may be f**ked up but they’re , frankly, very engaging in their humanness.”

Robert Colliso, Toronto Star

“Widowed retiree Verna Woodcock returns to her family’s cottage, north of the Arctic Watershed line, bearing the ashes of three people: her philandering husband, Robert; her father, Donald; and her eccentric sister, Fern. Once at the cottage, she is unexpectedly reunited with Ferns children relatives Verna has not seen in decades, thanks to madcap Ferns carefree and careless ways. More ominously, J.R., Ferns unlovable ex-beau appears with designs on the mineral rights on Verna’s land and an intimate connection to Ferns horrific death, the revelation of which will provide the newly reunited family with an unanticipated opportunity to bond. Many of Hardy’s characters bear the scars of deep psychological damage, but they are also amiable; the novel appears to be one part Arsenic and Old Lace and several parts doleful CBC radio drama. The resulting melange is more comic than one might expect. Hardy (Broken Road) embraces her Canadian setting, and although her characters are drawn in broad, simplistic lines, the resulting tale of reconnection and personal growth through furtive burials is amusing.”

Publishers Weekly


Cover_GeomancerAbout The Geomancer’s Compass

“A Chinese Canadian family has suffered generations of bad luck and two 16 year olds are sent on a mission to undo the curse. It employs a bit of science fiction, Canadian history, and a well-paced mystery. This pat summary doesn’t do justice to the creativity Ms. Hardy injects throughout this interesting story. The teens must go to Saskatchewan and, in doing so, learn about the history of Chinese immigrants working on the railway in the 1800s. They solve the mystery of their missing ancestor, using virtual reality and avatars to help them along their way.  There are many unusual elements to Ms. Hardy’s story. She quickly develops her characters so that you have definite elements to help you understand who they are. She deals with obvious issues, like historic persecution, but also digs into how individuals treat each other. She uses technology or elements of Chinese culture to help the story along without making them distractions. This is a thoughtful book that delivers an intriguing adventure. The context is excellent for a wide range of ages. Strong Grade 4 readers can easily handle the text, while older readers may find the language and story less challenging but enjoy the interactions of the main characters. Older readers are also more likely to appreciate Ms. Hardy’s treatment of prejudice and the history of Moose Jaw’s gangsters.”

David Whelan

“The Geomancer’s Compass will do well among middle grade aged readers, especially those interested in mystery and early Canadian history and Chinese culture themed novels. Hardy has crafted a well-thought-out tale, one which is equally engaging as it is enlightening.”

Recommended, CM Magazine

“Miranda Lu is a sixteen-year-old computer geek in 2021, when virtual reality is a completely immersive experience. It’s also a platform that can be accessed by the spirit of her dead great-great-grandfather, who sends Miranda and her cousin Brian on a mission to break the family curse. The curse’s origins in Chinese tradition make this a thoughtful as well as exciting read for the younger set.”

The DC Spotlight Newspaper

“From the get-go, Geomancer’s Compass soars with an energy that never lets up… There is so some much going on here one wonders if the plot might collapse under its own weight, but Hardy deftly sustains a highly imaginative story that combines disparate times, ideas and characters into a very convincing tale and provides a whole lot of fun along the way.”

Catharine Leggett, Goodreads

“I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The story is fast-paced, the dialogue cheeky, and there are meaty undercurrents about computer-enhanced reality, prejudice, and the lives of Chinese-Canadians.”

Sharon Wildwind, for Story Circle Book Reviews, reviewing books by, for, and about women

“Science fiction with roots! . . . . Lots of humor in this utterly original multicultural scifi/fantasy mystery!”

Karen Ball, Goodreads

“The book’s rather sombre tone is tastefully balanced with a good measure of humour. Brian, more so than Miranda, with his insatiable compulsion to talk with strangers and his intense hyperactivity is the driving force behind much of the book’s lighter moments. Together, however, they are the perfect complement to each other, despite being near complete opposites. By the end of the story, each gains a greater understanding of one another, but rather surprisingly; it is Miranda who learns that she has a lot more growing up to do. The Geomancer’s Compass will do well among middle grade aged readers, especially those interested in mystery and early Canadian history and Chinese culture themed novels. … Nevertheless, Hardy has crafted a well-thought-out tale, one which is equally engaging as it is enlightening.”

Andrew Laudicina, CM Magazine

“Melissa Hardy melds the past and the future into an unexpected storyline in The Geomancer’s Compass while enlightening readers about some Chinese traditions and concepts, including those unmindfully adopted by others, such as feng shui and chi. While I had been under the mistaken belief that The Geomancer’s Compass was a tool from medieval times (okay, I was wrong), I was delighted to realize the book bridged Canadian history (even if it isn’t all flattering) with science and fantasy. While many readers may not be as enamoured with history as I am, I was engrossed with details about Moose Jaw’s underground tunnels, about the gangsters who established business in Canada during Prohibition and how Chinese immigrants braved their mistreatment. Sadly, this is the history that “illuminates the future” (see the quote from Alexis de Tocqueville above). Luckily Miranda is able to use her tech skills to help right the wrongs of the past, which consequently allows her to see beyond herself (her germaphobic nature definitely reflects her self-absorption) and appreciate her valuable heritage. Just as a lo p’an is used to balance energies, The Geomancer’s Compass capably balances the past and the future while harmonizing  Miranda’s rich essences.”

Helen K. CanLit for Little Canadians


About Broken Road

“Readers interested in mythology will revel in London writer Melissa Hardy’s new novel, Broken Road. Others may find the local author’s litany of lore and legend a trifle exhausting. Her expert prose style, however, will please anyone interested in well-honed writing. In her earlier short story collection, The Uncharted Heart, Hardy caught the shifting moods of Ontario’s North with a practised eye. There, she skillfully sifted stories of survival and endurance into a colourful weave of cause and effect. Her motley collection of traders and trappers, loggers, farmers, natives and worn-out, burdened women gave the tales a lively allure which would be difficult to match.”

The London Free Press


Cover-TheUnchartedHeartAbout The Uncharted Heart

“Gold, greed and great writing.  With her latest collection of short stories, The Uncharted Heart, Melissa Hardy continues her creation of luminous prose. . . .Hardy infused the landscape and characters with such life that even more stories proliferate in readers’ minds than we find on the page. The Uncharted Heart turns out to be a dazzling performance. . . .The Uncharted Heart is a remarkable evocation of events and place in Canadian history, a discerning examination of human motivation and behavior, and an adroit use of language. Melissa Hardy has an obvious place in the chart of Canadian writers.”

The Globe and Mail

“These are tales meant to enthrall and entertain and they succeed, yes, magnificently. . . .their effect is haunting. They radiate with the visual splendour of dreams and the psychic force of poetry. . . . A superb collection.”

The National Post

“Beautiful snapshots from a different world.London writer Melissa Hardy is unique in her ability to capture the shifting moods of Ontario’s North. To anyone who has lived in the far reaches of the province, the details of her observations will seem exact and beautifully caught : snapshots from a different, yet not alien world. In eight tightly knit stories centered on themes of survival and endurance, Hardy brings to life a motley collection of fur traders, trappers, Hudson’s Bay Company clerks and burdened women who flooded into Northern Ontario during the Porcupine Gold Rush of the early 1900s. Although the tales are harsh and focus, often on struggle, brutality and greed, they are viewed through a prism of dreams and unrequited hopes.Hardy’s stories teem with peculiar characters and extraordinary situations. She writes compellingly of remote locations and of their often doomed denizens: loggers, natives, trappers, subsistence farmers, unhappy immigrants and the beleaguered women who share their fates. Her attachment to the North is evidence throughout the collection as is her familiarity with it, and her tapestry of tales is the work of an accomplished writer.”

The London Free Press

“It’s fitting that a land so feral on its surface but so rich at its core should provide the setting for stories that are as bleakly realistic as they are fantastic. Stepped in oral narrative traditions, including stories from native sources, Hardy’s writing is often peppered with equal parts history and comic relief, suggesting that her work is as suited to campfire circles as it is to the page. The Uncharted Heart demonstrates Hardy’s talent for capturing a vital moment in Ontario’s history and influsing it with characters and situations that tantalize the imagination.”

Quill & Quire

Cover-ConstantFireAbout Constant Fire

“. . . a spell of sly, deadpan, darkly funny and skillfully crafted fiction… Although Hardy’s stories brim with smoky, funky colour, she’s no slave to the quaint and folkloric… Many of Hardy’s characters are possessed by spirits who prove tenaciously difficult to exorcise. Hardy writes so convincingly from the inside of a culture not her own, it’s clear she knows about possession first-hand.”

The Globe and Mail

“In Constant Fire, Hardy explores life on the Qualla Boundary Reserve. The stories are formal expressions of Hardy’s regret for the conduct of her race. She joins a people trapped in epilogue, in an endless display of mourning and deferred grief. But the stories can also brilliantly shift shape and honour — formally and in spirit — Cherokee culture. . . Hardy says she “squeezed through an opening between worlds” when she lived and worked among the Cherokee, that she needed to tell these stories. On the west coast we might say she potlatches; Constant Fire is a redistribution of great wealth.”

Books in Review
“This splendidly lyrical collection of stories is imbued with the author’s desire to repay those people whose stories and culture remained hidden behind the theatrical makeup… She successfully situates her characters in a spiritually vulnerable world, a rich mystical landscape hidden below the façade offered to the outer world…”

Ottawa Citizen

“Constant Fire is artistically written, with an effective mix of tragic history and comic tension in the present. Its jokes operate not only to release nervous tension but also to call attention to the ongoing rifts between white America and native peoples… Constant Fire is a learning experience packaged colourfully and conscientiously…”

University of Toronto Quarterly

“. . . in her ability to represent rather than colonize voices of First Nation or Native peoples, Hardy’s interwoven mythic, historical and folkloric intertexts present authentic and often humorous anecdotes of human endurance. In connected stories split identities, constructed realities and displace cultural traditions following Andrew Jackson’s forced evacuation of the Cherokee to Oklahome (the Trail of tears), Hardy explores the role of ritual and magic in healing and regaining cultural connections. Hardy’s fictions use traditional oral stories to comment on contemporary frame stories, thus bringing Cherokee folklore and history into current events and helping readers feel the hidden or subversive, “constant fire,” still burning in Cherokee culture.”

Canadian Literature

“The characters’ mocking scorn of outsiders partially diffuses their lingering rage about their historic treatment at white hands, and sets the tone of stories such as “Blood” and the magnificent “Long Man the River.” Lines of reality shift and shimmer, joining the dead and the living in a harmonious continuum. Characters appear and re-appear, age and die, in rhythms that give them depth and richness… (Hardy’s) style and narrative technique, strongly influenced by Native storytelling, are assured… her imagery is often sublime… Overall, these stories provide a fascinating journey through the psyches of people who often find living just barely possible.”


One thought on “Reviews

  1. Anonymous says:

    Greatly enjoyed your novel Surface Rights. Slightly crazy family, but warmly human.

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