Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

Lynn: Wow! I am a rabid fan of Lanagan’s short stories and I was really excited to read this new full-length novel. It is a fantasy and uses a fairly conventional narrative style so it may be more accessible to more readers. It is still a very demanding book and will challenge readers in a different way. The emotional wallop is extremely intense, especially in the first 70 pages of the story. It is the tale of a young girl, 14, in some Middle Ages type place, living in extreme poverty. Since the death of her mother, Liga’s father has sexually abused her, aborted the children she conceives and completely isolated her. After her father dies, she gives birth to a child and is gang raped. In anguish and despair, she decides to kill herself. When something magical intervenes, Liga finds herself living in the place of her dreams – where nothing would ever hurt her again. But what price must she pay for her safety? The writing is brilliant and I am sure that rereading will yield treasure. The characters are beautifully developed; world building is extraordinarily rich as Lanagan plays cunningly with form and genre. Her trademark unique use of language is also present.

The subject matter and bawdy sexuality will make this a controversial book and I am sure it will be much debated. It is definitely for mature readers but should not be missed! This is one of my top three for the year.


Sarah said...

This is the best book I've read this year so far (but I haven't read the new Octavian yet!). I was blown away by the way Lanagan took the "Snow White and Rose Red" story and sort of expanded it in all directions. Beautifully written. And although yes, the sexuality is there (as well as some brutality), I think the thing that works so well is that we see everything only as clearly as Liga sees it. She doesn't always understand what is happening to her, and the only reason we do is that we are older, more mature readers. Plus the writing is so gorgeous that, as I said in my VOYA review, even the most brutal and painful scenes are not graphic or sordid, but only heartbreaking.