Tender Morsels (Margo Lanagan)

Tender Morsels is a retelling of Snow-White and Rose-Red by Margo Lanagan.

After her mother’s death, Liga lives alone with her father in the middle of the woods – and has to be a stand-in for her mother in every way. Before her father can force the third abortion on her, he suffers a fatal accident though, and Liga can keep her daughter Branza. But the crappiness is far from being over. Not soon after Branza is born, five young men from the town come to Liga’s hut and rape her. When Liga tries to kill herself and Branza after this, a magical force saves her and transports her to a magical world, where everything is made to fit Liga and her two daughters (one of them still unborn) perfectly. But the real world can not be hold completely at bay.

I enjoyed Tender Morsels. It’s well-written, a very interesting spin on the fairy tale and the characters are very vivid. It does have some problems with the pacing, though and I did not like the ending.

Lanagan’s style is interesting; invoking the folk-tale style of fairy tales with ease, and at the same time remaining pretty poetic and very readable. And her characters speak a dialect, which brings them to life. She really struck the perfect balance there.

And I loved Liga, Branza, Urdda and Davit Ramstrong – they were just perfect characters and you really wanted them to get their happy endings. Which made the actual ending a little hard on me. [SPOILER] I mean, Branza, Urdda and Davit got what they wanted. But Liga, who would deserve to get so much, has to sacrifice her own happiness for her daughter’s sake – and where’s the fun in that? [/SPOILER]

I really liked the way Lanagan adapted the fairy tale, though. She stayed true to so many small details and yet gave it her own completely original spin.

Summarising: If you like fairy-tale retellings, this is a must-read. If you don’t like retellings, it’s still strongly recommended.

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