I’m not going to lie: I am inordinately delighted by this.
When it comes to complimenting a writer, it’s hard to imagine anything more thrilling than when a reader chooses to become a fictional character. Perhaps especially when that character is, well, a deranged sociopath.
I never imagined I’d ever see Milkweed cosplay.
So you can imagine my bewilderment (and excitement) when I received an email last year from a very kind and talented woman named Sara Wolkov. Sara had a number of detailed questions about Gretel, the precognitive sociopath of Bitter Seeds, The Coldest War, and Necessary Evil. But usually when I field questions about Gretel they pertain to the nature of her prescience, or her motivations, or her plans. Sara’s questions were different: she was very interested in the minute details of Gretel’s appearance, down to the physical arrangement of the wires in her hair, the battery harness, and even the connectors on the battery itself. We discussed how the wires were embedded in Gretel’s skull, and the distribution of electrodes on her scalp.
Sara told me she was motivated to seek out these details because she was contemplating a Gretel costume. At which point I nearly jumped out of my chair, screaming, “Oh please oh please oh please OH PLEASE.” I tried to be more restrained in my email response, of course, but I did mention (oh-so-casually) that if any Gretel cosplay did come to pass I’d, you know, be interested in seeing any photos of the final result.
And so, a few months later, Sara sent me these! (I’m posting them here with her permission; all images are the property of Sara Wolkov.)
Walking barefoot through the browned field is a particularly nice touch. It’s a wink at the original John Jude Palencar artwork for the US hardcover edition of Bitter Seeds.
Gretel is, of course, known to twirl her fingers through her braids, particularly when she’s trying to look innocent. She’s also known for the way the corner of her mouth tends to quirk upâ€¦ which is usually bad news for the person on the receiving end of that smirk.
If there were any surviving photographs of Gretel, surely they’d be sepia toned…
The original ReichsbehÃ¶rde batteries were large, clunky, uncomfortable things. As beautifully demonstrated here.
So if you’ve ever wondered what Gretel would look like in real lifeâ€¦ wonder no more. Meanwhile, let’s all be damn grateful this is just a costume.