Tags: young adult, fantasy, short story collection
Yellowcake brings together ten short stories from the extraordinarily talented Margo Lanagan--each of them fiercely original and quietly heartbreaking.
The stories range from fantasy and fairy tale to horror and stark reality, and yet what pervades is the sense of humanity. The people of Lanagan's worlds face trials, temptations, and degradations. They swoon and suffer and even kill for love. In a dangerous world, they seek the solace and strength that comes from family and belonging.
These are stories to be savored slowly and pondered deeply because they cut to the very heart of who we are. [summary from Goodreads]
Quick—someone teach me how to review a short story collection. I’m afraid I didn’t take notes on individual stories as I read this, so just a few words on the collection as a whole.
The book’s afterword explains not only Lanagan’s inspiration for each of these stories, which I found interesting to read, but also that the majority of these stories have been previously published elsewhere. If you’ve been a dedicated YA short story anthology reader, particularly of the SFF kind, then you may have read some of these stories already. It’s probably a good idea to know this, in order to avoid buyer’s disappointment.
The best audience for YELLOWCAKE is devoted Lanagan fans, or readers who have read a book or two by her and are curious for more. I fall into the latter, perhaps moving into the former. Like her other books, the stories in YELLOWCAKE don’t seem like they should work, but they do. In each of them is a vague echo of something familiar: I felt like I had read the essence or the ideas of some of them before. But in Lanagan’s uniquely skillful hands, the ideas turn into phantasmal sights, old and new at the same time.
I’m not sure if there’s a connecting thread running through all these stories. Sometimes I felt like I could catch hold of a connection, but then the next story comes along and dashes my tentative theories into pieces. The best I can come up with is that this short story collection persuasively argues, in a peripheral, is-it-or-is-it-not kind of way, the importance of having a little more magic—however you define it—in our lives.
Cover discussion: In this age of movie-poster-clone book covers, this quiet and slightly mysterious one stands out.
Knopf / May 14, 2013 / Hardcover / 240pp. / $16.99
e-galley received for review from publisher and NetGalley.