Acquired: Sent to me by Luisa at Chicklish (Original review here: http://keris.typepad.com/chicklet/2009/07/review-tender-morsels-by-margo-lanagan-.html)
The re-imagining of fairy tales has become increasingly popular in recent years and Margo Lanagan’s newest offering is the latest novel to attempt this difficult feat. Tender Morsels is the story of Liga, who raises her two daughters in an alternate reality, keeping them safe from greed, hate and (most importantly) bad men. However, when her inquisitive daughter, Urdda, steps across the barrier between the two worlds, Liga finds that her heaven is shattered and realises that sooner or later she must face her fears.
When I picked up Tender Morsels the first thing that struck me was the cover art. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I know it’s wrong but I really do judge a book by its cover and Tender Morsels has one of the most interesting covers I’ve seen in a long time. Like some twisted version of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, the cover really sets the tone of the book, which flicks from beauty to horror seamlessly.
However, after a look inside the cover it became clear that Tender Morsels is not your ordinary fantasy novel. ‘Not suitable for younger readers’ was printed boldly underneath the blurb, which itself states that the book is ‘sure to shock and amaze…Tender Morsels will take you to the very edge’.
Usually I disagree with content warnings and censorship but, for once, I think this one is deserved. Margo Lanagan deals with very adult sexual issues that are definitely not suitable for younger readers. That said, the controversial content didn’t detract from the plot and, even though some scenes were quite explicit, they were extremely well written.
My only issue with the novel was the language Lanagan uses, which took me a while to get used to. The dialogue is full of colloquialisms and syntax that didn’t feel natural to me, so for the first few chapters I had to concentrate so hard on what the characters were saying that it interrupted the flow of the story. Although, I did grow accustomed to the speech and, by the end of the novel, I didn’t give it a second thought.
Tender Morsels is a truly unique book, like nothing I’ve ever come across before. It is full of a host of utterly charming characters and I dare anybody to read it and not fall in love with Lanagan’s brilliantly crafted story.
Many thanks to the publishers for sending me this novel.