cover image Honeycomb


Joanne M. Harris, illus. by Charles Vess. Saga, $28 (432p) ISBN 978-1-5344-3305-2

Floating somewhere between story collection and novel, this extraordinary work from Harris (Chocolat) transports readers to the enchanting, dreamlike Nine Worlds. Most of these bite-size fairy tales chronicle the life of the Lacewing King, the leader of the Silken Folk, “who live in the shadows and cast none themselves,” beginning with his birth in “The Midwife,” and tracking his heartless actions as ruler in “The Lacewing King and the Spider Queen.” “Penance of the Lacewing King” and “Travels of the Lacewing King,” reveal his moving change of heart, and his story culminates in the kingdom of death in the title story. He is aided in his many misadventures by his mother, the Honeycomb Queen; a nameless builder of boats; and others he meets along the way. But he is also hunted by both the Spider Queen and the Harlequin. Some stories run parallel to this central narrative, allowing readers glimpses into a farm of troublesome animals (“The Bull and the Snail”) and showing the actions of the other leaders of this dark, magical world (“The Prince”). Several also feature caged singers, both birds (“The Sparrow”) and women (“The King’s Canary”). The effect is magical, poignant, and wholly transporting. Supplemented by evocative line drawings, this strange, wondrous mosaic is sure to delight any lover of fairy tales. (Mar.)