15 April 2009

Tender Morsels

by Margo Lanagan

Allen and Unwin. Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Australian. Paperback rrp $32.95

Tender Morsels is a book for defined tastes. It is not a light-hearted read nor is it an easy read. But if you are a connoisseur of fantasy stories then this is the book for you. I couldn’t phrase it better than the back cover blurb:

It is a gloriously told tale of journeys and transformations, penetrating the boundaries between male and female, reality and myth, nature and magic, conscious and unconscious, temporal and spiritual, human and beast.

Liga leads a truly miserable existence. Her life is one of servitude and sexual abuse by her father, who buys ‘potions’ to miscarry the children she conceives. Then he dies and Liga is finally free. Free to keep the baby inside her. She finds joy and purpose in motherhood. But the world has not finished punishing her and the village boys seek her out and gang rape her. She becomes pregnant again.

Liga then loses all hope. But a miraculous being offers Liga an entry to a ‘heaven’ on earth. There, in an idyllic place and time she raises the two girls, Branza and Urrda. The peace is only broken by the occasional intrusion of the ‘man bears’.

But eventually, hurried by Urrda’s curiosity, the border between ‘heaven’ and earth begins to unravel. Liga must learn to live in the real world again and provide protection for her daughters. She must face the men behind the bears, both good and bad.

There cannot be light without darkness. And vice versa. In this book you will find many layers of both. A challenging, entertaining and imaginative read.


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