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Tender Morsels


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A dark and vivid novel from an author acclaimed for the fearless range of her imagination, the emotional intensity of her stories and the virtuosity of her writing.

About the Author

Margo Lanagan is a highly acclaimed writer of novels, short stories and poetry. BLACK JUICE, her second collection of stories, won the World Fantasy Award for Best Collection and RED SPIKES won the Australian Children's Book Council Award for Older Readers in 2007. She lives in Sydney, Australia.


This book opens with a teenage girl miscarrying a child. Liga lives with her sexually abusive father in a small cabin set apart from their poor village. When he dies, she is left alone to care for their newborn baby. A group of boys takes advantage of her isolation, and, pregnant again, Liga attempts to kill herself and the baby. Instead, magic takes her to a place where she can safely raise her daughters, Branza and Urdda, apart from the cruelty of the world. Safety comes with a cost, and sometimes the skin protecting Liga's realm is thin enough to let people through-first a greedy dwarf and then one magical man-bear followed by another. When the girls return from their self-imposed isolation, they must learn to love and understand the people of their village, with all of their flaws. Why It Is a Best: The author's two short story collections, Black Juice (2005) and Red Spikes (2007), focused on the beauty and cruelty of human nature. Here, she takes the same theme and reinterprets the Brothers Grimm story "Snow-White and Rose-Red" with stunning linguistic precision. Why It Is for Us: The book's chilling scenes of sexual violence contrast with the healing power of womanly sisterhood-familiar stuff for fans of Margaret Atwood and Toni Morrison-whereas its magical realism is reminiscent of Isabel Allende. Employing multiple viewpoints, Lanagan's writing withstands these comparisons and more.-Angelina Benedetti, King Cty. Lib. Syst., WA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

In her extraordinary and often dark first novel, award-winning story writer Lanagan (Red Spikes) creates two worlds: the first a preindustrial village that might have sprung from a Brueghel canvas, a place of victims and victimizers; the second a personal heaven granted to Liga Longfield, who has survived her father's molestations and a gang rape but, with one baby and pregnant again, cannot risk any further pain. As she raises her two daughters, placid Branza and fiery Urdda, she discovers that her universe is permeable: a dwarf or "littlee man," in Lanagan's characteristically knotted parlance, slips in and out of her world in search of treasure; and a good-hearted youth also enters, magically transformed into a bear in the process. A less kind man-bear follows, and then a teenage Urdda, avid for a richer life with the "vivid people," figures out how to pass through the border, too. Writing in thick, clotted prose that holds the reader to a slow pace, Lanagan explores the savage and the gentlest sides of human nature, and how they coexist. With suggestions of bestiality and sodomy, the novel demands maturity--but the challenging text will attract only an ambitious audience anyway. Ages 14-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Gr 10 Up-Life is difficult for Liga in Margo Lanagan's dark fairy tale (Knopf, 2008), a Printz Honor book. Liga lives in a dreary medieval village with her father who forces her into an incestuous relationship. She becomes pregnant, her father dies, and Liga gives birth to gentle, sweet Branza. Life becomes more tolerable until her home is invaded by a mob of boys and Liga is gang-raped. Liga is pregnant and decides to end her life, but magic intervenes and Liga is transported to her personal heaven where she is treated kindly and accepted by the people. She gives birth to a second child, wild Urdda, and Liga and her daughters find refuge in this peaceful world. From time to time the tranquility is interrupted when the border between heaven and reality is breached. Men appear as bears-some good, some not so good. Eventually Liga and her daughters must choose between the heavenly life with little passion and the earthly life with all its brutality. Anne Flosnik and Michael Page narrate. Flosnik voices the females with distinct voices, pitch, and pacing. Page's male characters are more difficult to discern because his strong Scottish accent remains constant, challenging listeners to determine which character is speaking. While the print version has been praised by reviewers, this disturbing dark tale of good and evil and what it means to be human is not likely to have wide appeal. The conclusion for Liga is disheartening and few listeners will endure to its bitter end. This story is simply too odd for a majority of teens to enjoy.-Tricia Melgaard, Centennial Middle School, Broken Arrow, OK Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

Tender Morsels is Margo Lanagan's highly anticipated new novel, and it has most definitely been worth the wait. With her three previous collections of short stories, Lanagan established herself as an author unafraid to tread the darker paths of fantasy, as shown in her multiple award-winning story, 'Singing My Sister Down', and Tender Morsels takes a similar tone. Liga is a young peasant girl, who gives birth to two children after being abused by her father and raped by boys from a nearby village. Wanting nothing more than to protect her children from a life like hers, Liga finds her wish granted, as she is transported to a world of her own creation, free from such cruelties. But the boundaries of this other world are not solid. Whether by accident or design, men begin to find their way through the walls and threaten to destroy this haven Liga has created. Although it can be read as simply a dark fairytale, Lanagan's novel is dense with issues of gender, psychology, and society, that makes this a very satisfying read. If you're a fan of Lanagan's previous work, Grimm's fairytales, or dark fantasy, this novel is a must-read. Stuart Dunstan is the special orders coordinator at Borders Brisbane

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