Long, long overdue–my review of Tender Morsels.*

Posted on April 14, 2010

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The synopsis: “Tender Morsels is a dark and vivid story, set in two worlds and worrying at the border between them. Liga lives modestly in her own personal heaven, a world given to her in exchange for her earthly life. Her two daughters grow up in this soft place, protected from the violence that once harmed their mother. But the real world cannot be denied forever — magicked men and wild bears break down the borders of Liga’s refuge. Now, having known Heaven, how will these three women survive in a world where beauty and brutality lie side by side?”

Look. This is not a book for the squeamish. It is not a “beach book,” or a “feel good” book. So if you’re looking for something light to take on vacation? Tender Morsels is not it.

But I’ll tell you what it is. It is brilliant. It is beautiful. It is brutal. The circumstances that drive Liga to her magical refuge–namely, incest, miscarriage, and rape–are excruciating, but there is absolutely, unequivocally a message of hope in the ending. And the path Lanagan takes to get Liga there is poignant, exquisitely written and incomparably imagined.

So, if you’re looking for light and fun, Tender Morsels is not for you. If you are under 12, Tender Morsels is not for you.

But everyone else? Buy it. Even if you read the first page and are shocked by the language. Even if you are horrified by the opening scenes. Even if it disturbs you at first, and you can’t figure out why you keep turning the page.

Buy it anyway. You will not be sorry. It will transform you.

*My review for this book is woefully inadequate. Here’s why: written by anyone but Margo Lanagan, this book would fail. It’s Lanagan’s writing, her mastery of voice, that makes this book magical, and that can’t be captured in a review.

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